Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
15 November 1920, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: Today, I would first like to hear the wishes and reports from the members of the faculty. In the first part of this meeting, I want to know if the faculty has any wishes or questions we should discuss without the extended faculty, that is, without the younger teachers who will come later.
I would first like to know how the instruction in the ninth grade is going, and I would like to hear the experiences of the teachers working with that class.
A teacher: In the eighth and ninth grade German class, we are reading Herman Grimm.
Dr. Steiner: Have you had an opportunity to bring other things into the lectures by Grimm? How far have you come in history? What did you do with his first lecture where he speaks about Rome in the second part of his characterization of the last centuries?
A teacher: The children did not know that history.
Dr. Steiner: It is important that you cover the history of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, at least in the ninth grade. Perhaps you could do it that way. It is missing in the ninth grade. In teaching about these centuries, the goal would be that the students understand the present, don’t you agree? They are now fifteen years old. You could go through those themes as Herman Grimm presents them in each chapter and take the nineteenth century as a confluence of the histories of various peoples. Use the themes of the last four centuries as leitmotifs. Actually, it would be important to do that in both classes, only you should do it in different ways. In eighth grade, more narratively and in ninth grade, go more into the major ideas of the last centuries.
You need to work toward being able to present the major ideas to the children. There is a great deal of material in those lectures you can expand upon by bringing in literature from everywhere.
(Speaking to another teacher) You teach mathematics. Have you gone through geometrical drawing with the children?
I have been so occupied with other things, but do you find it necessary to bring so much reasoned and theoretical material into physics? Doesn’t so much purely conceptual material slow things down?
A teacher: I want to present only what is absolutely necessary.
Dr. Steiner: How many of the experiments have the students mastered? In electricity, it is, of course, necessary to present the observations very rationally with little theoretical speculation. That is something that probably does not stick with them too well. From a purely didactic perspective, it should not stick well. I think in this case we should have the ideal of developing the necessary concepts out of the experiment and drawing on the blackboard as little as possible. We should develop the whole thing out of the experiment. You can also try your Socratic method. When you develop something theoretically, the Socratic method is not of much help, since how can the children know anything? You can hardly ask them questions. Since you can do experiments, I would certainly take advantage of those opportunities. You can save a great deal of time. If you go through electricity in that way, you will complete it. The children will learn a great deal more than if you just explain the concept of voltage. Didactically, that would be unwise. You will then need to do two weeks of geometrical drawing, but only two weeks.
A teacher: In the foreign language class, we read the Forum scene from Julius Caesar.
Dr. Steiner: Could you also do that in writing as a kind of essay? You need to do something like that, also. In German, too, so that they have a picture, one that they can really articulate.
(Speaking to the German teacher) You don’t have any themes? It would not hurt if you repeated the material in your lecture, using your own words.
A report is given about French.
Dr. Steiner: In any event, we can do what we projected for the ninth grade.
The German teacher: I now need to do Jean Paul.
Dr. Steiner: I did not mean you should do everything one after the other. It is now mid-November, and we need to do some history. Actually, the four centuries in their context. You really need until mid-January in both classes. For all the other classes, the curriculum is fixed.
A teacher: Will this curriculum then become standard in the future?
Dr. Steiner: For now, we need to know what we need to do this year.
A teacher: Should we teach literary history in foreign languages?
Dr. Steiner: With those children you do not need to do anything more than to say something about Shakespeare in passing, for instance. Or things you can take care of in that way.
The methods the public schools use for Latin and Greek are horrible and utterly decadent. We need to bring our children along so far that they find a connection. When we have sufficiently developed our methods, we need to bring our children just as far. But our methods will not present things in the same way. I think that when we resolve this problem, you will no longer have discipline problems, and then you can achieve that. The real problem is that your children are out of control every five minutes.
The Austrian college preparatory high schools were exemplary. When you think of Leo Thun and 1854, their curriculum was the very best imaginable; Gautsch ruined it. They did history well. In Weimar, I found a different understanding of world history, namely, from the creation of the world until the Hohenzollern, only fifteen pages, and three volumes about the history of the Hohenzollern.
We also have the independent religious instruction for this class. How are things there?
A teacher: We have nine grades in three groups.
Dr. Steiner: Why have the classes become so enormous? If the distribution is reasonable, then large classes will not hurt. But in your case, the children are really sitting on top of one another. Mr. U.’s class is too large. We need to divide it. Seventy-three children! They don’t fit into the available seats, and then they push one another out. Terrible! Today, the worst students were absent. It is absolutely clear that we need to divide this class, and I think we should do it. Particularly in these cases where the instruction really depends upon having contact with the individuals — you must be able to ask one or another question as often as possible — surely we can arrange for two periods and divide the class between them. This is, at best, a question of space and is something we must solve, as otherwise we will fail in that area of instruction. Who could also give that class?
A teacher: I would be happy to do it.
Dr. Steiner: It needs to be someone who was not previously in religion. You may have been out for a number of years, but it still forms your thoughts. We have no one on the faculty. Of course, this is a difficult problem to solve, but we will have to get over this hurdle. The teacher must bring warmth into the instruction, warmth. I would, for example, propose A., but I do not know if he can acquire the necessary pedagogical perspective. How about trying A., since in the present crisis, who else could we propose from the anthroposophical movement? There is no one.
We’re stuck. I know of no one else. We cannot hang this around the necks of the teachers. The ninth grade is so small you can easily make contact with the individual students.
(To a teacher) It seems to me that you need a helper in your class, Miss H. Perhaps Miss S. could help you. We need to speak about that. You need someone especially when the children need to work. The class is too large for teaching in chorus. It has peripheral areas, and you cannot reach out into the farthest realms. I would prefer having two classes, but Miss S. can work in your class and help you when the children are busy, for instance, in drawing or painting. The class is falling apart. Individual children are not active enough during class. They just sit around. I also wondered if you could give a period and then stay in the class while Miss S. gives the next period. That would take care of the discipline problem. We could think about how to do it. In principle, a class could have one hundred and fifty students, but we will not have such large rooms. You have fifty students in your class, but it is too large.
A teacher: I would like to ask if I should stay with the C-major scale and emphasize the absolute tone in tone eurythmy. I was wondering if it was incorrect to present tone eurythmy as relative.
Dr. Steiner: You can do that.
A eurythmy teacher: I always assumed the absolute tone.
Dr. Steiner: You can teach the eurythmy movements by remaining with the absolute, but you don’t need to do that pedantically. What are the children doing with you in shop class?
A shop teacher: We have continued last year’s projects.
Dr. Steiner: How is the discipline in handwork this year? Last year, the last period was handwork and the discipline was quite good. Do you have much to do? I am asking because I think we should have discussed it in the foundation course last year. Is it possible to meet every other week about that subject, that is, apart from the school as such? Can you formulate some questions that will lead to a positive result? It would be good if we remained in contact about such things, if you developed some questions where you have doubts, and I could suggest some themes we could discuss when I am here. I hope in the future I will have some time to devote myself entirely to the Waldorf School. You need to think about some questions where you are having problems and send them to me so that I can answer them when I return.
A comment is made concerning painting.
Dr. Steiner: (To a class teacher) You have presented it?
A teacher: You saw some attempts today.
Dr. Steiner: As such, they were quite good, but you will need to work less from the conventional and develop writing more out of drawing and painting. That must be your goal. Guidelines are available for the first grade, but you must slowly develop them further so that color is more developed.
A teacher: At present, I can’t find a way. I am groping in the dark.
Dr. Steiner: Some of the children have done very good things, but it must come more out of the color. T.F. has some talent.
A teacher: I have found that the children have difficulty with forms using watercolor.
Dr. Steiner: You should not emphasize chalk too much. Unfortunately, we are not so far along yet, but it is quite important that we delineate. First, we will have an ordered curriculum in the lower classes. Of course, the others will do nearly the same thing, but we need to take the children’s age into account. The main thing now is that we awaken an inner feeling for color in the children, an experience of the world of colors, so that the children receive a feeling for the life in the world of colors through experiencing fairy tales.
A teacher: We need to give the children forms, particular motifs.
Dr. Steiner: The children will get forms if you allow their fantasy to be active. You need to allow the forms to grow out of color. You can speak with the children in the language of colors. Think about how exciting it is when to work with the children so that they understand something like: Here is a coy violet with a brash red right next to it. The whole thing sits upon a humble blue.
You need to do it concretely, so that the colors do something. That forms the soul. What we can imagine in the colors can occur in a hundred different ways. You need to get the children to live in the colors by saying things like, “When the red peeks through the blue.” Allow the children to really do that. I would try to bring a great deal of life into it. You must try to bring them out of their lethargy. Bring some fire into it. Nowadays, it is generally necessary to develop this feeling for colors. It is not as corrupted as music, but it will favorably affect their feeling for music.
A teacher: Would you be in favor of practicing drawing as well as painting?
Dr. Steiner: Not mechanical drawing. They should do that only when the object is geometrical understanding. In any event, it is important to work out of the polarity of light and dark. In that regard, the ninth grade has not shown itself to be particularly lively, and you need to help them.
A teacher: Could the eighth and ninth grades have painting lessons?
Dr. Steiner: That would have to occur in the periods we already have. We should do more artistic work, that is quite evident. That is also why it was important to me that Miss Hauck come into the handwork class and that handwork be taught artistically. Mostly the handwork is boring, and I would like to see it done really artistically. In handwork, you can use a ruler, but it is inappropriate with paper. We could form a bridge between shop and handwork. There are a number of things that can be painted. There are also things the children could paint by themselves at home. If the children would make things for their dolls, there is much we could develop. We could develop a sense of style and color. If we could overcome the naturalism in making dolls, we could make something lively, laughing dolls, ones that are artistic. That would be very beneficial.
Just as you can get children accustomed to writing in different ways, I do not know why you cannot teach children how to make a poster and how a poster can be beautiful, and how they can recognize the beauty of a beautiful poster. They should also recognize an ugly poster. But people look at such things without becoming angry. We must develop taste. We should develop a feeling for style. Concerning the feeling for style, the instruction, even in the most artistic schools, is terrible.
We had the most disgusting examples here a short time ago. You all know the drawings in Towards Social Renewal. They were changed to make them more current. What did the artist do? He created the motif so that the left side repeated on the right. He made a Gothic window out of it. Such things occur.
We could achieve something beautiful in the tenth or eleventh grade. One of our industrialists wants a logo for his baby food. That is something that should be created from within. There are inner needs. Today, people know only about art objects, but that is how it should be if it is to imitate something. In Basel, there is an art teacher who says he does not understand why, if I paint an eye here, I cannot paint the other one there. There is something to be said for that as long as you do not go along with the thing itself. What I mean is an inner ability to experience, that is what I mean by a feeling for style. People need to experience a triangle or a rectangle and not simply imitate. Today, people make dolls by simply imitating and not experiencing them from within. You need to be able to experience within yourself how a doll laughs or cries, and that all needs to be done properly, including the clothing. The girls could make a doll and the boys, a jester. We must take the capacity for inner experience into account in painting with colors.
A teacher: Could we use that also with tones?
Dr. Steiner: I think they can also be experienced inwardly. A music teacher: Should we express that to the children through words? The melody or the individual tones?
Dr. Steiner: That results from the theme alone, or the melody. If you treat tones that way, then something artistic results. I think that is what Goethe meant about how he learned to play the piano.
A teacher asks if the children should make eurythmy shoes.
Dr. Steiner: The children would become weak and ill from that. I think that would lead to problems. But, on the other hand, is there so much to making eurythmy shoes?
A teacher: Now, many children make them for the others.
Dr. Steiner: How long does a child need to make a pair of eurythmy shoes? I think that among the members there are many, that is, among the women, there are many who could make at least a dozen such shoes in a day, or at least nine or ten.
A teacher: There is a student in the fifth grade who does not want to do eurythmy. He has no interest for art, only for physics and electricity.
Dr. Steiner: Just as there are unmusical people, there can also be uneurythmic people. I would not excuse him from class. That should happen only when there is a partial idiocy present.
Comment about student S.
Dr. Steiner: The one who crept out from under the seats?
You need to always think, for example, I will make the drawing in a corner, I will make it large or small. You should make him develop some inner activity. You should not allow him simply to sneak away; he needs to be inwardly active. It is better if the boy has to do something that he first needs to decide to do. You can achieve the most with that boy by giving him some attention and being friendly. He can also be well behaved. I have found it curious. I have only seen when he is punished. What he did, I never saw.