The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
GA 300

Twenty-First Meeting

22 November 1920, Stuttgart

Dr. Steiner: I would like to say a few things about my impressions of the past few days. I wish we had time to discuss them, but I fear it will not be possible during this visit. Before, it was not so bad, but now with the new classrooms I see we need to hang pictures on the walls. The fourth grade classroom is dreadful in that respect. It was so apparent to me that I mentioned to Mr. U., while he was teaching religion, that things are falling apart. You must take care of this. There is also much to be desired in the fifth grade room. The walls should not look only like walls; they need some pictures. But, you must do this carefully.

A Mr. G., a member of the Anthroposophical Society who wants to find some pictures, is mentioned.

Dr. Steiner: I am a little fearful of that. The pictures must harmonize with our pedagogy, and therefore cannot be chosen before I return.

Where are the painters who can do something? The impulses must arise from the respective class teachers, and then the paintings must be really very artistic. We cannot do anything inartistic. We must create something special for this school.

This morning Miss L. went through The Giant Toy, something Chamisso intended as a poem. As soon as you have gone through it with the children in Chamisso’s sense, you easily come into rationalism and lose the flavor of it. You need to understand it as a poem describing the old landed aristocracy traveling to castles. It is a very social poem. The giant toy is the farmer whom the landed aristocracy use as a toy. I would have been shocked to mention such a thing this morning. It can easily fall into rationalism. On the other hand, since the children really liked it, we should try to translate it into painting without losing the flavor of those thoughts — that is, the poem’s thoughts of the playthings of the declining landed aristocracy. We should not have the children translate this poem into prose, but into a picture. If we hung something like that as a picture, it would give a deep impression, something taken from the instruction that the children fully felt.

When the Waldorf School opened, I spoke in detail about this with Miss Waller. I spoke about the need to create something in a truly artistic way that gives metamorphic thought to the realm of life. We have done something similar in Dornach in the transition from one architrave to another. If we had such things, it would be much easier to explain things we teach. When G. donates things, he donates what he likes. That is something we want no part of. Perhaps you could think about these things, but we need them.

A teacher: Would it be in keeping pedagogically if the children painted something themselves?

Dr. Steiner: Your niece visited me and brought her first paintings. She said I should not just look at them, but should hang them on the walls in my home.

It depends upon how they are. I have nothing against hanging up things the children make, but with pictures it is very difficult. It is thoughtless simply to hang normal pictures on the wall. What does a picture on the wall mean? In artistic times, people never thought of just hanging pictures on the wall. They had to fit the room. Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is in the dining room of the cloister. The monks sat in a circle, and the four walls were painted. He ate with them and was a part of them. That was thought of out of the relationship of the room. Such things justify the paintings. Simply hanging up pictures makes things more confused.

A teacher: I wanted to hang reproductions of the windows in Dornach.

Dr. Steiner: You should leave that for now.

A teacher asks if paintings from an anthroposophical painter should be hung.

Dr. Steiner: It depends upon how they are done. It is important that the children have pictures that will make a lasting impression upon them.

There is another thing I wanted to speak about. There are a number of things under construction. Due to the lack of appropriate rooms, music instruction is suffering terribly. That is a calamity. It is certainly true that if the music teacher goes deaf because he has to teach in an inappropriate space, that is a calamity. We must improve this. People would be quite satisfied if we had something like a quartet in the Waldorf School. That is the sort of thing we can achieve when we have everything we need. It would be good to know for sure that we would properly provide for music for the next three or four years.

A teacher: We have plans for a music room.

Dr. Steiner: Have you consulted the music teacher as an expert? It is important that you determine what you need yourselves. We must also take care to see that we do something for the gymnasium at the same time.

The music teacher: I also need an appropriate room to prepare for class. I need to try out things.

Dr. Steiner: We should do these things in the way you say we should do them.

Are there rooms large enough for the trades classes? How do you handle so many children? If you always have such a troop, you can hardly get through to them all.

A teacher: It only begins in the sixth grade.

Dr. Steiner: In spite of that, I am not certain you can get through everything. The problem is that there is not enough space in the classrooms, really only a corner. The children get sick in them. We need to take these symptoms into account.

Now, I would like to hear what you would like to talk about.

A teacher: What to do with children who are lethargic.

Dr. Steiner: How is Sch. in the trades class? He walks so oddly. Last year I gave some basic exercises for those children who were weak in comprehending so that they had to think about their own bodies. “Touch your left shoulder with your middle right finger.” Through such things, you have to think about your own body. I also showed you how to draw something in a stylized way, and then have the children figure out what it is. You can also have them draw a symmetrical picture. Through those things, you form a perspective connected with the structure of the body. When you bring such exercises into your teaching, they work to awaken the sleepy child. That boy is sleepy.

I ask you to accept no laziness in detail with the children. Do not tolerate the children holding chalk like a pen, or doing anything awkwardly. I would pay a great deal of attention to such things. Nearly half the children hold chalk improperly. You should not allow that to pass by. You should be very attentive to such things.

I would not allow the children to shuffle out, like the little girl today. I would try to see that she improves her walk. That has a very wakening effect.

N. in the sixth grade is also very apathetic, and such exercises would quickly help him.

I would also pay some attention to the little girl in the fourth grade at the back on the right. She tends to invent a great deal, and she thought that the whole scene from “The Ode to the Courageous Man” took place in the Mediterranean Sea. She began with the line, “The dewy wind came from the midday sea.” From that beginning, she made a fantastic geography. You need to speak with this little girl often, since she is in danger of suffering from flights of fancy. “The Aegean Sea flows into the Mediterranean Sea.”

There are some children who write very well and have progressed far, but the little boy writes like many communist speakers speak. He pays no attention. He writes disconnectedly, the way a speaker speaks of communism. Such exercises would awaken him also.

A teacher asks about F.L.

Dr. Steiner: Perhaps you should often call upon F.L. He is not so bad, only dreamy. He does not find his way to himself. He needs to feel that you are interested in him, and then things will immediately improve. It’s already going better now.

A teacher: He doesn’t speak in class.

Dr. Steiner: Could he get himself to do that? He is always afraid that no one loves him. That is his basic problem. You shouldn’t look for anything more complicated.

A teacher: What would you advise for Ch.D. in the second grade?

Dr. Steiner: Has she learned something from the instruction?

What bothers you about her?

A teacher: Her character disturbs me.

Dr. Steiner: Sit near her and pay no attention when she is flirting with you. Pay no attention at first, but on the next day speak a few words with her about what she did the previous day. Don’t do it immediately, only twenty-four hours afterward.

A teacher: W.R.K. is in my fourth grade class. He pays no attention, doesn’t learn anything and continually disturbs the other children. He is sleepy and apathetic.

Dr. Steiner: I would also try the exercises with him. Do everything from the beginning so that they don’t get used to anything, they don’t have any specific forms they comprehend.

A teacher: (Who took over the fifth grade because Mrs. K. fell ill) Since there have been so many changes in teachers, one of the main problems is that the children’s knowledge of arithmetic is so haphazard. Should I stop arithmetic and take up another subject?

Dr. Steiner: How long do you think it will take until each child is far enough along that things will work?

A teacher: The majority of the class is not so bad in arithmetic.

Dr. Steiner: I think that it is good to teach in chorus. It is good to do that within bounds. If you do too much in chorus, I would ask you not to forget that the group soul is a reality, and you should not count upon the children being able to do individually what they can do properly in chorus. You may have the feeling that when the children are speaking in chorus, you can keep them quiet more easily. That is a good method when done in moderation so that the group soul becomes active. To that extent, it is good to leave the children in the hands of their group soul. However, as individuals they cannot do what they can do in chorus. You need to change that. You need to ask the children a lot individually. That is what you need to do because that has significant educational value. Don’t believe that when the children become restless you should always have them speak in chorus.

A teacher: What should we do about restlessness?

Dr. Steiner: What do the children do?

A teacher: They talk, chatter, and make noise.

Dr. Steiner: That appears to happen in arithmetic class. When I was there recently, the children were wonderfully quiet.

A teacher: They were afraid of you. That’s what they said afterward.

Dr. Steiner: Perhaps you should try for a time to excite the children’s curiosity so that they follow the instruction with a certain level of interest. Do that through the material itself, not through something external to it.

(Speaking to Miss Hauck) It’s true, isn’t it, that I’ve never found the children misbehaving in your class. I think things will settle down, and the children will get used to you. The fourth grade is really well behaved and interested. They entered into a difficult discussion and thought things out well. I spoke a little about that. You should not immediately expect — as a teacher in the Waldorf School, you are still quite young and fresh as the break of day. You need to wait until the children come to see you more closely.

A teacher: G.Z. is homesick. He is always asking questions.

Dr. Steiner: He is also quite attentive in physics. I was amazed that he is so well behaved. The woman he is living with says he is always criticizing and complains terribly about the teachers and the school. He says that he learned much more at other schools. We should find out if that is true.

A teacher: G.D. is easily annoyed and feels unjustly treated.

Dr. Steiner: His mother feels herself to be very spiritual, and it appears she has told the child a lot of rubbish. Over the years she has said all kinds of terrible things. What is the problem?

A teacher: The mother complains that I am stressing the child.

Dr. Steiner: I don’t think that it would be so easy to work with the mother. She is a kind of society woman.

You will often notice that children who can still be guided and with whom you can achieve everything have the most horrible situations at home. This little boy could turn out to be a really wonderful young man through proper handling, but he cannot move forward in this situation. He is talented, but he has all the illnesses his mother has, only more so and in a different form. If you pay no attention to those things, you immediately do the right thing. A eurythmy teacher: I cannot awaken R.F.’s interest in eurythmy.

Dr. Steiner: Be ironic with him. He was in a parochial school. The main problem is that he does not participate in eurythmy. I would try to have him draw some eurythmy forms first. He should draw the forms and after he has done that, have him do them. A teacher asks a question.

Dr. Steiner: Now we have your primer. It is well done, and it would certainly be very helpful for someone who uses it. We could do a number of things with it. It would be a good example of the spirit active in the Waldorf School. I think it would be generally good to publish such things connected with the instruction. Not simply essays, but things that we actively use in teaching. That, however, would cost money, and the problem is, how can we do it? The way you have put your book together with its drawings, we should print it in an appropriate way. We can certainly have it set. We could do that. We could also make a title page. The typefaces available now are terrible. We would need to do that for the whole book. It would cost twenty thousand marks. If we assume we could sell a thousand copies, we would need to sell it for forty marks each. How can we do that financially? It would be interesting to discuss how we could do it. We need to think about that. Books are terribly expensive, and you could not do this sort of thing with normal typeface. It is so different as a primer, and it deserves support. I could write an afterword for it. No one would understand it if we published it as it is, but there would be much talk about it.

You have a system with the moveable pictures that have strings attached to them; you have a short text and above it a moveable picture. I find that very useful for picture books. Such picture books are extremely necessary in kindergarten. If you would only continue to work on it! Modern books are so boring.

A teacher: I wanted to ask if we should also include old documents in the religious instruction.

Dr. Steiner: Of course, but also things you do yourself. I think we should ask Mr. A. to take over half of the religion class. Give him only half and select those students you want to get rid of. In spite of his age, he will be just as young and fresh as the morning.

A teacher: Would he also participate in the services?

Dr. Steiner: That will soon be necessary.

(Speaking to Miss. H.) I would like Miss S. to join you. I think it would be good if Miss S. were with you, and if you allowed her to continue the instruction. You teach a period and then remain in the class and maintain contact. In between, there is someone else. It seems to me you should want that. Of course, you do not need to carry it out pedantically. I just think that should begin because you cannot manage that class by yourself in that room.

I was certain that I could give you the yearly report, but I have so much to do that I can only send it to you from Dornach. I was happy to see you are also not yet finished. I already wrote something for the Goetheanum, but you haven’t written anything yet.

A teacher: I would like to have the yearly report printed.

Dr. Steiner: I will really write it when I get to Dornach, and I will give it to Mr. M. Someone will have to edit all these articles. If only I had the time! I will have to take it with me to Dornach and do it there.

Dr. W. is also unhappy and makes a long face all day long. You should do the lectures from H. As I have often said with a certain kind of sensationalism, my father wrote love letters for all the fellows in his town. They were always coming by to have him write their love letters. The girls were always very happy. But that you should do H.’s lectures? I need to give some lectures in Zurich, and I will tell H. that he will have to do his own lectures.

I also need to think about your desire for a Christmas service. Is there anything else to discuss? We do not use illustrations just to make things clear, but to make the spirit more mobile. I would not find it unjustified if you illustrated the size of the community by taking the prime numbers contained in them and tossing them into a bowl. Then you have only the prime numbers. You can make that visible. Take a large bowl and the prime factor of two and throw it in. That is a number you can use to measure both.

It is important not just to reinforce what you want to make comprehensible. Memory is supported by including visible spatial thoughts, so the children need to have spatial ideas. There is nothing wrong with that. That period was very good, but we could connect something to it to give the children some idea of space.

If there are no further questions, then we will close. I can only say concerning something going around that the school has lost an intimacy due to the increase in the number of children, but I don’t find anything wrong in that. I don’t think it is something you should feel to be particularly unpleasant. We need to accept that as it is. In general, I can say that I think the school has made very good progress in every direction. Does anyone have a different opinion?

There is something else I want to mention. In a certain sense, our activities in Stuttgart need to be a harmonizing whole, and we need to feel them in that way. We need to develop a harmonious working together. It would be good if things everywhere went as the Waldorf School pedagogical work did last year. The Waldorf teachers are working valiantly so that one thing supports another. You need to consider what is in Stuttgart as a whole. The Anthroposophical Society and the Waldorf School are together the spiritual part of the threefold organism. The Union for Threefolding should be the political part, and the Waldorf teachers should help it with their advice. The Coming Day is the economic part. The Waldorf School began, but everyone must do what is necessary so that the other things do not get lost. In particular, everything depends upon the activities of the Union for Threefolding. We should remember that with each new step forward, new tasks arise. Now that we have added the Del Monte factory, we have a whole slew of workers. A factory meeting like the one we held is very visible in today’s society. Every bridge between the workers and the leading classes has broken. If we cannot awaken common interest through the threefold movement, like that of the 1870s when the European proletariat was interested in the democratic idea, so there were common interests, and people thought of more than simply bread, if we cannot do that, then we will move forward nowhere. We need to create a cultural atmosphere. In that connection, the cultural life in Stuttgart has been sleeping a deep sleep in the last five months, and we must awaken it again.

We can see that the threefold newspaper, that is as good as possible, has not had any increase in circulation in the last five months, nor has it had an increase in the number of employees. We need new people for the threefold newspaper. Our goal must be to change it as quickly as possible into a daily paper. If we are not consequential, that is, if we add new factories without accomplishing something positive for the political movement in Middle Europe, we will not survive. We cannot simply add new companies and at the same time fail to do something politically important.

In politics and social life things are not simply true. If you go to such a meeting today, and say that something is true, but do not act accordingly in the next months, then it is no longer true. It becomes untrue. If The Coming Day remains simply a normal company, it will become untrue. It is true only if we move forward with real strength. What is important is that we act against prejudice in current events.

Someone like Stinnes is very important for the near future. His ideas are gaining support. In particular, his party, the German Idiots Party, that is, the German Industry Party, is gaining strength through those ideas. We need to be clear though, that there are clever people behind the scenes. He intends to create a monopolistic trust for cultural life and economic activity so that the proletariat crawl to the gates of his factories and ask to be allowed in. He is well under way in that direction, and what he does is systematic. The cultural movement in Germany has a certain connection with such people. People in our group understand this trick too little, but Graf Keyserling in Darmstadt certainly saw through it.11 He has strong financing behind him. What Stinnes is trying to do is put forth as a salvation. You can read about it in the newspapers. This is bringing about a kind of threefolding, but with an Ahrimanic slant. It will be the devil’s work if it is not done in the way we can do it.

It is important that we keep our eyes open, our ears to the ground, and our noses to the wind for everything happening. It is nice to set up absolute theories, and we need to connect the overview with the details. Our activities need to remain current. In my lecture in the Liederhalle, I connected what I said with the miners’ strike. We need to raise people’s view from everyday things to the large perspective. We need to coordinate everything and through that The Coming Day will probably work. It would not hurt the Union for Threefolding if we lit a little fire under it.

The urgent question is what to do with all those children coming from the newly acquired factories. That is a question that can turn into an accusation if we do not act. It’s certainly true that Dr. Unger’s company has a hoard of children, as does the Del Monte factory. Since we took them over, our task has grown, so how do we now handle the Waldorf School? We need to take care of that. I would also like to remind you of what I said yesterday in a different place. We have a responsibility not to allow those students who have engaged themselves in spreading the word to be left out on a limb. We need to be careful about that. The call is a terribly valiant deed. It is having an effect. The students from the Agricultural College in Hohenheim have already reacted. We must see our movement in such a way that it does not stop, that it makes progress every day, for otherwise it makes no sense. We can’t move into a retirement home yet.