Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
23 March 1921, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: (Speaking to Ruhtenberg who was substituting in the 5b class) How are you doing in the fifth grade?
A teacher: The children are talkative and boisterous.
Dr. Steiner: To what do you attribute their talkativeness? Their previous teacher, Miss Lang, could always work with them.
A teacher: I listened in on her class, and the children were always quiet with her.
A teacher: That class was always particularly difficult.
Dr. Steiner: This is something peculiar. Miss Lang could always keep them quiet, so there is something hidden here.
A teacher: She was very strict.
Dr. Steiner: I would like to call your attention to the fact that there is something important for us in this situation. Miss Lang was a credentialed teacher in Württemberg. When we are evaluated, they will tend to use the strict discipline taught in Württemberg. When the three wise men were in the school, one said, in reference to Mrs. K., that the discipline in her class was not as good as that in the credentialed teachers’ classes. They noticed when a properly credentialed teacher was in the class.
A teacher: I have the impression that the problem lies in not having enough time to prepare myself.
Dr. Steiner: Here we come to the intangibles. It is not only important what a teacher does, but who the teacher is, the attitude in his or her soul. That is how things are and how we must think of them. That is something particularly obvious in the college preparatory high schools, where a teacher often arrives at school with a hangover because they have spent the evening at a bar. Then, all hell breaks loose simply because the teacher has a hangover. That is one of the intangibles, perhaps the most radical case. The moment you are insufficiently prepared, the souls of the children vibrate differently. That is easily seen in the lack of discipline. The real difficulty for the teachers in the Waldorf School is to be truly prepared. With all the stressful activities, it is terribly difficult to prepare. Why are you laughing?
A teacher: Because that’s the way it is.
Dr. Steiner: Once again, we want to become aware of the kind of teachers we need. Yes, we have the sixth grade. We don’t need to divide it. There are fifty-four children, but that is still bearable. However, we must still think of the ninth grade, and in that connection, the tenth. We will need to find some division there.
The classes are reviewed — including those of the specialty teachers — and assigned.
Dr. Steiner: I would like Dr. Röschl to come here. I think she is suitable. I would very much like her to have Latin and Greek. She could begin in the fall.
Is Ruhtenberg free? Considering that I want to have Dr. Röschl, I think it would be a good idea if Mr. Ruhtenberg would permanently take over the 5b class.
Then we need to discuss only two new teachers.
Isn’t Miss Klara Michels a high school teacher? We could certainly consider her for the upper grades.
Dr. Kolisko says he can be at the school beginning in the fall.
Dr. Steiner: If Dr. Kolisko comes here, things might shift a little. It is not easy to find teachers. A large number of people have applied, but there are hardly any we can use.
A teacher: In ninth grade history, I am now at the present.
Dr. Steiner: You had thought about skipping Jean Paul. I think we must keep things we have decided upon. Are you also at the present in the eighth grade?
I would recommend that you have the eighth grade read the first chapter of Schiller’s Thirty Years War. They can learn a lot from that. It contains many things that go up to the present.
A teacher: Could we read something out of a book in the seventh grade English class?
Dr. Steiner: Perhaps you could. How much time would you have to read? How could we manage to read Dickens’s A Christmas Carol? It would be extremely instructive if the children had the book, and you called upon them individually and had them read aloud before the others, so that they learn to think and work together. In the sixth grade, poetry followed by prose. In Latin, you could have them read Ovid or Virgil, perhaps Plutarch, little stories.
A teacher says he has read Ovid.
Dr. Steiner: Stay with it until they can do a great deal.
A question is asked regarding Pliny.
Dr. Steiner: Pliny is good reading. Use Livius for the older children. There you will have to go into the more intimate things. We know very little about Livius. He is a famous writer you can conjecture about.
In Greek, I would go through such sayings (an example is given). There are a number of these two-line sayings in Greek.
A question is posed about the religion class.
A teacher: I was in the 6b class. That went quite well.
Dr. Steiner: You can help someone a great deal when you are in the class.
How is it with eurythmy? I wanted to have Mrs. Steiner hear about it.
A report is given. An extra class has been formed.
Marie Steiner: It is not a bad idea for some of the young men and women to simply look on.
Dr. Steiner: Forming an extra class broke with the principle of showing eurythmy to the school. If that principle were properly held by the school, you would not do that, you would not prepare an extra group. You remove the class from the normal process of the school instruction that way. Forming such a student aristocracy is something that disturbs the school’s pedagogy.
A teacher: We did it that way because we needed some of the children for performances.
Dr. Steiner: There must be some of the regular students you can use for that. It is not pedagogically correct to prepare a particular group in a special way.
A teacher: I spoke with Mr. N., and he thought it might be better if we had a course outside the school.
Dr. Steiner: Then we could never say that we are presenting the Waldorf School children. That is something we need to take into account for the public. We have never discussed such an extra course in one of our meetings.
A teacher: It is something that arose out of the first performance.
Dr. Steiner: We need to discuss such important things in our meetings. Otherwise, one day someone could decide to select a number of children and begin a class in chess. In principle, it’s the same thing. We cannot do this. You are creating an aristocracy. Marie Steiner: I understand that.
A teacher: I wanted to ask if we have given up the idea of a kindergarten.
Dr. Steiner: Not given up. We just need to wait until we can form it.
A teacher: We wanted to bring up the question of a vocational school.
Dr. Steiner: Are there concrete possibilities? We will need to determine the plan for the tenth grade. It should contain something practical. But a vocational school? Are there any concrete possibilities for it?
A teacher: The concern is with the children who have left, so that we could include them also. At the present, it was not possible due to space limitations and money. We should prepare it for next year.
Dr. Steiner: The preparation would actually be to see to it that the officials don’t spit in the soup.
A teacher: From the official perspective, vocational schools are acceptable, but we will need to show that the curriculum meets the standards of the others.
Dr. Steiner: Now we are to be so stupid as to stick the children into special situations. We cannot do that if we are to remain with our pedagogy. We can create only those things that will bring people forward. If we create a vocational school, we must do it in such a way that the children will have something for the continuation of their human development.
We will decide what kind of school we want to create. There was certainly no doubt that Strakosch was called to a general vocational school. It was to be a kind of practical continuation of the college preparatory high schools, a school for human development. We haven’t the slightest inclination to create anything else. It is certainly not necessary that we do what everyone else does.
A teacher: The situation is that the children who will go into a trade must attend one of the state schools.
Dr. Steiner: Those who are already attending such trade schools don’t come to us. We will have none of them in our classes. We lack the possibility of teaching children according to our plans from the age of fifteen on. That was something we said earlier. For now the question is settled. We already discussed it here and we cannot do anything more now. The most acute question is how to use the time between elementary school and college. If we had some way of getting official recognition, we would have a tremendous increase in attendance.
Is it possible that when an apprenticeship is not under consideration, someone could get such people accepted into a company?
A teacher: Those who have not learned through a certified master cannot be employed.
Dr. Steiner: We can’t do anything! Everything is so limited that all we need is a law about how to hold a fork.
We need to study the question about how we can create a vocational school so that it can be a vocational school in the sense of my essays on public education. The Waldorf School needs to see if we can force that through the official channels. We will need to create more respect for the school.