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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
GA 300

Thirty-Ninth Meeting

28 October 1922, Stuttgart

Dr. Steiner: What is now weighing upon my soul is the class schedule. It cannot remain as it has been. I very much regret it was not possible for me to see and hear more of the school. However, during the relatively long period when I was at the school nearly every day, I got a certain impression. This class schedule cannot remain as it is because it causes too much fragmentation and dispersion of our efforts and is, therefore, not rational. Of course, we can make a change only after we are clear about the direction of the change. For if today’s meeting is to be really fruitful, you must say everything you have to say about the subject. I do not mean you should speak only about the class schedule, as that will be the final result. What we need is for each individual member to completely say what he or she has to say. Let us begin with that.

A teacher wants more weeks for mathematics and physics in the eleventh grade.

Dr. Steiner: We cannot do that without bringing it into harmony with everything else. We first need an overview of modern languages in the various classes, as that definitely cannot remain as it is and everything else is connected with that.

A teacher wants to divide modern language instruction in the 8b class. A colleague would take the beginners and the class teacher the more advanced students.

Dr. Steiner: We cannot divide the classes in just any way we want. We can do that only if we approach the problem radically, so that we form groups according to ability. That is something we need to do, otherwise we will have an endless extension of the class schedule. The class schedule has taken on an impossible form. Only if we base our pedagogical methods entirely upon the development and understanding of human beings, can we achieve what is possible. It is easier to ruin what is good than it is to turn around what is bad. The bad is not so far away as its counterpart. It is certainly true, don’t you agree, that the class schedule is a monstrosity?

A teacher wants to have Greek and Latin class immediately after main lesson in the higher grades and to have it for two periods.

Dr. Steiner: That would be good, particularly if you gave it some color. You could handle the more formal things in one period and in the other, reading. In that case, it would be better to have two hours, one after the other.

It is not possible to maintain Greek and Latin unless we allow the children to decide, beginning at some grade, whether they wish to have French and English or Greek and Latin. That is something we need to do. We need to work toward enabling the children to pass their final examinations. We can’t do that other than by allowing them and their parents to decide whether they want to have Greek and Latin or French and English. Since we begin French and English in the first grade, there is no doubt we can offer some repetition of it for those older children who want Greek and Latin, if they desire that. Nevertheless, we must undertake this division.

A teacher: In what grade would this division occur?

Dr. Steiner: The desire to take Greek and Latin is the same as the desire to take the final examinations. The way things are today, we would have hardly any reason to offer Greek and Latin in the normal way, if we did not have students who want to work toward their final examinations and who also should have the benefits of the Waldorf School method.

A teacher: The students need French because it is included in the examination.

Dr. Steiner: Since we start teaching languages at the very beginning of elementary school, it would be sad if we could not repeat some of the instruction at a higher grade for those students who need to have Greek and Latin. We need to determine what we can eliminate from review. We cannot continue with things the way they are now. The class schedule is a monster and pedagogically incorrect.

A teacher proposes forming a group of beginners and a group of more advanced students for all the seventh and eighth grades. The way they are now grouped for modern language instruction, not much progress can be made.

Dr. Steiner: Elsewhere you find that the less capable children are left behind in the higher grades. You find that even in the elementary schools. Since we do not do that, we need to find another way. You will always have children who are more capable together with other children who are less capable. Those children who are unable to do the work disturb the class because they are bored. We must be somewhat more organized in our work. The first thing we can say is that they begin Greek and Latin in the fifth grade and that goes on to the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades. Therefore, in the fifth and sixth grades, we must have all four languages, or at least Latin [and the modern languages]. That is how it must remain. Beginning in the seventh grade, and for all the following grades, those who have decided to take Latin and Greek as their main language and French only as a review will not be able to participate in handwork. They cannot take English then.

In the fifth and sixth grades there will be English and French and Latin or Greek as an elective. In the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades, they will only have a review of French, and those who do not take Latin and Greek will have their regular instruction in French and English.

Many teachers say that two hours is not enough for foreign language in the upper grades.

Dr. Steiner: That is why it would be good to group the classes. Of course, we cannot put those children who have absolutely no French or English together with those who wish to take the final examinations. But, what we are talking about are elementary school children, and they don’t take final examinations. So, where is the problem?

A teacher proposes a way of forming groups.

Dr. Steiner: That will not change anything for those taking Greek and Latin. Beginning in the seventh grade, the French review will take the place of handwork. Under these circumstances it must be possible for those who take Greek and Latin to have those classes immediately after main lesson.

A teacher: Couldn’t we wait until eighth grade to begin that?

Dr. Steiner: If we remain with the same number of class hours, then five years is certainly not too few for Greek and Latin. Since we will be using the handwork time for a review of French, we could offer more French for those students taking Latin and Greek. We could drop English in the seventh grade. However, if we offer an English class through the first six grades, then I would like to know how anyone could claim that the children would not learn enough English. If we teach English from the first through sixth grades, how could that possibly be too little? At most, the children might forget some things, but they will certainly not have learned too little if they have had English for six years. Normally, English is not taught more than six years. It is not more progressive to teach it from the age of twelve to sixteen. Then, it is more difficult than for the smaller children. If we teach it with some fire, if the instruction does not fall asleep, six years will be enough. That is the best time for it. They no longer have Latin, it would be only one year more at an unfavorable time.

A teacher: Could we offer a review of English?

Dr. Steiner: There could be at best a desire, for some occult or non-occult reason. That is something we could determine for the children. Such things could be done. However, we must first bring the class schedule into an acceptable form. We can do that only when we do not overfill it.

A teacher: A review of French would require many more hours for the students.

Dr. Steiner: That is not necessarily so. We would take the French periods from handwork. We would considerably limit the handwork class. We cannot continue to allow handwork to be as extensive as we have, because the class schedule would then become monstrous. We need to significantly decrease the amount of handwork instruction.

A teacher: Should we keep the same number of hours for Greek and Latin?

Dr. Steiner: For now we would remain with four periods per week. Now we should look at things from another perspective. If we want to bring the Latin and Greek classes into order, then we need to look at them differently. We could say that those students who have Latin and Greek in grades seven through eleven also have main lesson, and then Latin and Greek.

The next thing we need to look at is music. What is the situation there?

The music teacher: They have instruction in singing, choir, and orchestra, but not everyone comes to orchestra.

Dr. Steiner: Is that also in the morning? Couldn’t we reorganize the class schedule so that those children who have Latin and Greek would have main lesson from 8:00 until 10:00 or 11:00? Then they would have Latin and Greek four days a week directly afterward, or twice a week for two periods. In that case, we could take some time from other subjects in the morning. What would be the situation then? Could you teach more singing and eurythmy in the morning?

A eurythmy teacher: I would like to have the morning.

Dr. Steiner: You would not need to teach one hour of eurythmy and then an hour of tone eurythmy. It would be better to teach two hours of eurythmy, otherwise we will get lost. We need to be firmer in our plan. We need to get rid of this haphazard, whimsical way of working.

We would then have two hours of eurythmy, four hours of Latin and Greek, and also main lesson. Then we have voice and music. We still have the possibility of choir and orchestra. The music teacher: I have the feeling that the ninth grade needs more instruction in musical theory.

Dr. Steiner: I do not think it would be too much if you were to do that. We still have the problem of choir. That is something you should do separately. It would be possible to do singing in the mornings, and choir and orchestra in the afternoon. Thus, in the morning we would have main lesson, Latin and Greek, eurythmy, and voice. In the afternoon, we would have choir and orchestra. Those who have French and English should learn that while the others are learning Latin and Greek, so that things remain together. Handwork and gymnastics could be in the afternoon for the higher grades. In this way, we can create a class schedule.

If possible, we should teach gymnastics in the afternoon. Gymnastics is not exactly a time for resting. It is not good to group gymnastics with the other subjects. We could have two classes in the gym at the same time. I need to speak with the gymnastics teachers about the method. I have only made brief mention of that. In gymnastics, it is always possible to do the exercises so that two large groups can be formed. Recently, it was quite good to have gymnastics outside. It was clear that the boys cannot really control their bodies, that their arms dangle. The boys’ control of their bodies has clearly suffered from having had no gymnastics for three years. We cannot deny that.

When they have some free time, the children in the upper grades should perhaps find some work for themselves. We still have the question of religious instruction to consider and also shop. These are all things that need to be done in the afternoon. Art can also be done in the afternoon.

A teacher: The children have asked if they are required to learn stenography.

Dr. Steiner: There are a number of reasons why it should be required. Stenography only begins in the tenth grade. We could change things so that they have stenography for one period a week in the afternoons, but it would be required. It would be quite good if the children learned stenography.

The shop teacher: We wanted to teach shop in blocks, but the afternoons would not be enough.

Dr. Steiner: We need to see how things go with a proper plan. This has become urgent, and we must do that first. We will probably need a second teacher for that class, but we will have to have it in the afternoon.

The shop teacher: I do not want to drop the block approach. It has been very effective.

Dr. Steiner: You will find a way to continue instruction in blocks. If we do things so that main lesson comes first, then Latin and Greek second, and eurythmy and voice third, and that we do the other subjects in the afternoon, we can divide our time. We can put stenography where it fits. In connection with the other things, I think we could achieve our ideals so that main lesson is in the first two hours. Then I would certainly follow that with languages from 10:00 until 12:00. That does not fill every day, so we can also consider something else. The Independent Religious Instruction does not cause any difficulties in connection with the class schedule. It is still possible, with the exception of religious instruction, to have main lesson, languages, voice, and eurythmy in the morning for the lower grades.

The easiest thing would be to have handwork class in the afternoon, but it might be possible to exchange voice with eurythmy, so that the children do not have the same teacher every afternoon, although I do not think that would be the best thing to do. How many hours of handwork do we have? We have nineteen classes, so how many hours is that? If we have to divide classes, they should at least be in the same period. Then, it would not affect the class schedule. Because things are divided in a completely arbitrary way, without thought, we have an arbitrary class schedule. If eighth grade is divided, the same teacher should teach both sections. The class schedule has no firm contours.

A eurythmy teacher: We have divided nearly all the classes.

Dr. Steiner: We should hold the divided classes at the same time, otherwise the children will not be occupied. If the language teachers do not see that, we will be here all night long. If we divide a class in a subject, the children still need to have it at the same time. Any changes in the class schedule must be made in a meeting where I am present. Of course, we can relax things where there is a justifiable need, but we certainly cannot form the whole school irrationally. Do we really have to divide things so much? A eurythmy teacher: The classes are too large. It is hardly possible to work when there are more than thirty-two children.

Dr. Steiner: We need to divide them among the various teachers, but to hold the classes at the same time. Just give the other teachers the students they would like to have, and so forth. That can certainly be done, but it does need to be done. We are gaining a bad name because we are moving away from the spirit of the curriculum because of the class schedule.

What are you doing in orthopedic eurythmy? Is that also in the afternoon? I just wanted to know. It would be better to call it “eurythmic orthopedics” [curative eurythmy]. “Orthopedic eurythmy” has a little taste of “fallen angel” to it. Contradictio in adjecto [a contradiction in terms].

Now we have thirty-eight hours of handwork. The divided classes have to be given at the same time. That would be sixty-two hours. Why would it not be possible to stay with our plan? They need to be divided among four afternoons. These sixty-two hours could certainly be done in four afternoons.

A teacher: We can only do sixteen hours per afternoon.

Dr. Steiner: I only wanted to know how many hours we have and that is sixty-two. We could have four hours each of the four afternoons. In the best case, that would be sixteen hours, or forty-eight. We need to save fourteen hours. In order to do that, in the future we will have to teach the first four classes for two hours, one after the other, and for the remaining classes, one hour. We need to limit things somehow. We would then have twenty-two hours for the four lower grades. How many groups are there in the fifth through eleventh-grade classes? That would be twenty-one hours so that we now have forty-three hours. That is absolutely possible.

Those who want more time for practice could do that as an elective. If it is acceptable to the parents, we could add an elective. What happens in these handwork classes is a kind of recreation. They need to do the least there. The fact that there are schools that have four periods of handwork is a situation impossible for us. We’re not holding a school for girls here. If we were to go into such things, then it would be impossible for us to make a class schedule. We need to keep to an orderly schedule, so it is better when we don’t give in to such things. There is also a desire to have three times as many eurythmy periods, but we can only divide things upon an objective basis. No one would say that more would not be learned in two periods than in one. Even though there is an hour too little of handwork class, for arithmetic, we only have a quarter of the time that we need. It is just as justifiable to say that we need four times as much time for arithmetic as it is to say that we have one period too little for handwork. We could not give the children what they need to be human beings if we used that argument for everything. It is not used in connection with arithmetic. You could gain some time in the handwork class if you were to present it more efficiently and the children learn that they do not need a complete period to do everything. They could also use an extra half-hour in arithmetic. Our instruction needs to be efficient, as I said at the beginning.

Now I think that we have covered all the subjects.

A teacher: One of the religion groups needs to be put into the afternoon, since otherwise we would need one more teacher for religion.

Dr. Steiner: The number of teachers that the faculty can provide for teaching religion has been reached, partially because of time. We do not have anyone in Stuttgart.

A younger teacher: I would like to give that class.

Dr. Steiner: You would need to be here longer. You cannot do that. Perhaps it would be possible later if you still feel called to do it. For now, you have not been in Stuttgart and in the school long enough. It would not be possible.

(Speaking to Miss Röschl) If you did not already have seventeen hours, I would ask you to do it, but I am afraid to do so because of your hours.

(Speaking to another teacher) I was so dissatisfied with your instruction that I cannot take on the responsibility for it. You’ll have to excuse me, but after the disappointment you gave me, I just spoke bluntly, but after I observed your instruction, I really cannot take over the responsibility. Teaching religion is a very responsible position.

A teacher: I would like to give a class in religion.

Dr. Steiner: Perhaps in five years, if you work diligently until then. You need to live into such things. You cannot go into them without taking on the full responsibility. Imagine what it would mean if religious life were to flame up in you. Religious life needs to be kindled, and that can occur in many ways. How about you, Mr. Wolffhügel?

A teacher: I don’t think that is possible.

Dr. Steiner: I think you would be able to find your way to it. I need to be objective about this, and I think I could take on the responsibility if you and Mr. Baumann were to do it.

A teacher: I would need to prepare for both classes.

Dr. Steiner: Much preparation is necessary, as well as enthusiasm. I think that Mr. Wolffhügel is anxious in regard to the services. The religion class is something that needs to fit you, but the way you understand teaching, I think it would. My only question is whether you would be overburdened.

It would be best if it were somebody from school, but it can be somebody from outside. It is sad that it cannot be one of us. It is also strange that no one feels called to do this. I certainly value Dr. E. very highly for scientific things, but I would never give him a class in religion. No, I would not do that, but he is quite aware of how highly I value him.

It is difficult for Dr. R. (a theologian outside the school) who cannot even handle his own children. One who actually needs to be handled with the best level of pedagogy is beaten. If the boy remains in the school there for a half year, he will be ruined for life. The teacher beats him. His mother went to the teacher and wanted to speak with him. She began by saying to the teacher, “I do not want to speak to you as a teacher, but as a mother to another human being.” He replied with, “I will not allow you to speak to me as a human being.” She then went to the school director and told him about that. He told her, “Well, if you want to speak to a teacher in our school as a human being, then you cannot expect to be treated in any other way since that is a personal affront.”

That reminds me of something that happened once with a Russian woman at the German-Belgian border. She was returning from London to St. Petersburg. She got through Holland and at the German border she wanted to act like a Russian. The border control officer came to her and said that she would have to take her luggage down and she asked, “It’s so heavy, could you perhaps help me?” He replied with, “Help? Who do you think I am? Do you think I am a human being? I am a royal Prussian official and not a human being. If you were to go down to the market place, I would certainly offer to help you and carry your luggage, but here I am a royal Prussian official and I cannot help you get it down.”

Mr. Boy would be quite good, but he has not been here long enough to give religion instruction. You need to have been in anthroposophy longer in order to give the Independent Religious Instruction.

Who is speaking here in Stuttgart? H. would have the spirit and everything, but he does not have the temperament to be a teacher. He is also unknown among the anthroposophists. The groups are very large and we need to group them differently until we find someone. Today, it would only be beating our heads against the wall. What we see here are the symptoms of our overall difficulties. Now that we have all these institutions, the Waldorf School and the Association for Independent Cultural Life, we are in a situation where we actually need experts. We need experts in various areas. What is important in teaching is that the right person be at the right place. Under certain circumstances, seen purely externally, the teaching might not even look very good, but the personality as such is extremely important in this kind of teaching. There might be someone among the physicians. I could immediately accept that young man, N. There are also some among the theologians that I could easily trust to do this. I would never give G. a teaching position. Someone who writes such bad articles is certainly not destined to be a good Waldorf teacher.

A teacher: He has some good qualities.

Dr. Steiner: I met him recently. He is a nice young man, but he can’t do anything. There is no subject in which he could become a teacher. He knows really nothing about any subject, and that is the problem. He could never take over teaching a class, nor can he do something in any of the higher grades.

A teacher: He thinks that he will be coming to the Waldorf School as a teacher.

Dr. Steiner: No one would claim that he would become a Waldorf teacher if, when he is asked about what he can do, he replies German literary history.

A teacher: He misunderstood.

Dr. Steiner: His plan to go to Freies Geistesleben arose only after I had turned him down. I only told him that there is nothing available until Easter. I did not say that something would be available for him afterward. It would not be possible to say less. We will have to find another way.

A teacher: If I am to now change the class schedule, a change in the distribution of the teachers will not be necessary except for the consequences in regard to the parallel groups, will it?

Dr. Steiner: A change in the faculty will not be necessary if we do not decide to group things in languages differently than we already have. All the language classes could be at the same time, but they would be distributed on different days. We will have to have all the language classes at the same time, but not every class will have language from 10:00 until 11:00 every day.

There are two possibilities: either we will have language class for the whole school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 until 12:00. We will have, for instance in the second grade, six hours of languages, thus, there are three days with two hours of language each day. They would be from 10:00 until 12:00 and would be held in the regular classroom. Right now, Mrs. E. has five other language periods in other classes on Monday through Saturday. It would still be possible to have just as many classes of language, but with other groups of students. We could do the main lesson as such from the first through eleventh grades, but now we would be able to group the students differently. Then, we would only have the same number of language classes, but they would be divided differently. It would not be possible to carry out such a radical change pedantically, and you would still have two or three weaker students.

A teacher: We would have to have an overview of which students that would be. We need to make a list divided into three levels.

Dr. Steiner: For the time we can leave it as it is. That is something we cannot do now. That can only be done at a time when I can be here for a few days. For now, you need to continue so that the language instruction remains with the same teachers.

The remaining voice lessons can be done in the afternoon. You can still give stenography from 12:00 until 1:00. The main thing is that we generally remain with what we have discussed, that the main instruction be given between 8:00 and 12:00. That is all there is now concerning the class schedule.

Are there any questions that have come up in regard to the things that were decided? That is the reason why we are here together.

There is a further question in connection with dividing a class for language instruction.

Dr. Steiner: We do not want to extend these divisions as they are ruining the organization of the school.

A teacher: Both classes have French at the same time.

Dr. Steiner: I do not wish to continue this division. I would like to hire Tittmann if we had enough money.

If we can get the proper control over the situation, that would bring about a major change. We must gain a fundamental control over the situation. A strong change will have an effect upon the main subjects, even upon the children’s attitude. The children will see that they need to take a number of things seriously. We will not be able to change that if we do not have a firm class schedule. It might be good if some of you who were interested would sketch the class schedule.

There is something else that I would like to come back to and that I am really very sad about, namely, K.F. We cannot do as we had planned. He is coming back. He is collapsing. He is getting sleepier, paralyzed.

Several teachers talk about K.F. and that he is falling behind.

Dr. Steiner: The problem is physiological. I would like to come back to my proposal that we put him in the other class because I think he would be shaken up a little there. We do not need to cure the metabolic residues that are causing the depression. He is a good and kind boy, but he cannot act differently. I do not expect very much of him. I do not think he will want to take Latin and Greek, and in particular I want Mr. X. to work with him. I am doing this not because I believe that he should [not] come back to you (the present class teacher), but because I believe that because of his metabolism, he needs this pedagogically. If you really want to have him with you, I would not take him away, but I would like to try it.

I would prefer if he had only men for teachers. Today, his father told me how he gets around his mother. He is really quite clever. I would like him to have only men as teachers and that he is not taught by a woman during the two periods he has in the morning. On the other hand, I also do not want to break your heart. The class teacher: I like him so much.

Dr. Steiner: Nevertheless, I would like to have him taught by someone else. If you do not want to let him go, well, that is your right, and I will bow to it. However, if we can find some means of helping him pedagogically, then we should do that.

The class teacher: I will send him to the other class on Monday.

Dr. Steiner: The change is something important for the boy, and you will get used to it.

The class teacher: I have had him for three years now.

Dr. Steiner: That is just it. I think the boy needs a change. I have known him for a long time, since he was born. His entire person is deteriorating. It is a continuous deterioration that is quite shocking. For that reason, I would like to do something that is important for him at this decisive moment. He is in danger of going insane.

(Speaking to the new class teacher) You need to work with him. You should not allow him to be undisturbed in any period. Shake him up. You need to work with the boy so that his attention is artificially aroused, as otherwise he will further deteriorate. He needs to know why he is coming into the other class and to understand that we want the change so that he will pull himself together. You need to make it clear to him in the same way as someone who finds himself in a foreign location. It needs to be a significant event for him. He has these things from his mother, but more strongly. The things that live in the bodies of the parents move into the souls of the descendants, particularly such illnesses that are connected with the residues of the metabolism. They lead to the formation of small tumors. I do not dare to tell how dangerous that is. It is a very dangerous thing. His sister has the same astral type as he.

The school inspector will look at the remedial class. He will also look at the handwork class, but there we have less to fear than when he goes into the remedial class. He will not understand anything about crocheting. He is well intentioned and would like to give a good report. He is certainly well intentioned toward the school. He has the same opinions as Abderhalden about the fact that there is so much dust in the gymnasium and for that reason gymnastics is unhealthy.

I have also given some consideration to arithmetic in the various classes. I would like you to arrange the instruction so that you continue to teach new material in blocks, but that there are two half hours of arithmetic review in the normal main lesson. That is something we need to do everywhere, including the upper grades.

A teacher asks whether the mathematics teacher should also give the review classes for the upper grades, when another teacher teaches the main lesson.

Dr. Steiner: I don’t see why that would be necessary. If the faculty is an organism as I have always thought, then I see no reason for that. Why shouldn’t the teacher who is giving chemistry also give the review? You need to know what every one of you is doing. If all the teachers know what the others are doing, then that will not be necessary. I do not see why we should go into a subject teacher system. I think it is desirable that you can do that. I once had a mathematics teacher who did not recognize one single plant when we went on a school excursion. He knew a lot about mathematics and physics, but had no understanding of anything else. He didn’t know anything except Bohemian, German, physics and mathematics.

These are things we need to do. We need to come to a point where the teaching of mathematics is as it is in the eighth grade. That is what I have to say about the classes I have seen.

You see, we need to emphasize that the children can do something, that they actually learn, and that emphasis is almost entirely missing. You pay too little attention to that. In the upper grades, you have fallen into lecturing, and the instruction is mere sensationalism. They listen, but they don’t work inwardly, and for that reason cannot do enough. That is something that is becoming apparent in the little continuation school in Dornach. Those boys and girls are quite interested in what is presented, but they cannot do it. In other areas, too, we should be careful that they know something and remember it. You can often see it in the way they behave during the Socratic method, which is often not done very well. From the way they behave, you can see they have not properly taken what they are learning into their souls. For that to happen, you must have much greater interest and understanding for the echo the class reflects back to you. That is especially true for the higher grades. The fourth grade already shows a lack of inner participation. They need to participate inwardly. Don’t you also feel the children are learning too little? Tell me what you think. What is the problem in your opinion?

A teacher: We have talked a lot about this, but it is not so easy to break a habit.

Dr. Steiner: On the one hand, you lecture too much, but there is also another important problem. When you develop something in the class through the Socratic method, you fall prey to an illusion. You ask obvious or unimportant questions. The majority of your questions are unimportant. You do not tell the class what they need to learn and then reverse the teaching so that five minutes later, you ask them to tell you about it. You only ask obvious questions. It is important that you turn the instruction around during the period, so that the same thing appears several times in various forms and the students then have to participate in it. You also fail to introduce things that point back to earlier times in a way that would eliminate obvious or trivial questions. In truth, you have not overcome lecturing. Often, you have the illusion that you have overcome it, but you simply continue to lecture and ask trivial questions. You must eliminate this triviality and not give into illusions.

A teacher asks about dividing the classes for art.

Dr. Steiner: We want to do that next year. I have to admit I am somewhat against dividing music classes, but we will need to do it if we want more artistic development to occur. Perhaps in the twelfth grade we could institute an artistic-humanistic and business- oriented division. It is really too early to do that now. It would be wonderful to have an artistic middle school, but of course, the leaders would have to be artists. That is not something we can do at the drop of a hat, but we should keep the division of the school in mind.

A teacher asks about vertical and slanting handwriting styles.

Dr. Steiner: As long as people continue to write with the right hand, it is not desirable to use vertical handwriting. Vertical handwriting is unnatural for the human organism. Handwriting does not need to lie on the line, but it does need to give an artistic impression. Vertical handwriting does not give an artistic impression. I once explained that there are two ways of writing. In the one case, there are people who write automatically and do not use their eyes. They make their body into a mechanism and write directly from their wrists. Penmanship trains this kind of writing. I once knew a man who had to make the letters from a circle when he wrote. He went around in circles. Then there is also artistic writing, where you write with your eyes, and the hand is simply the organ that carries it out. It is not possible to develop vertical handwriting mechanically from the wrist. It would always be slanted handwriting, and thus, vertical handwriting is justifiable as an artistic method. This involves a judgment of taste, but it does not meet an aesthetic requirement. It is never beautiful and always looks unnatural, and for that reason is never justified. There is no real reason for vertical handwriting.

A teacher: I have children who are used to writing vertically. Why should they write at a low angle?

Dr. Steiner: You can’t accomplish such a thing by simply saying, “I will now teach slanted handwriting.” You cannot do that. You can only work toward no longer having any children who write vertically, but in the upper grades, you cannot pressure them too much.

A teacher: K.L. in my fourth-grade class writes vertically.

Dr. Steiner: With him, you could try to get him to gradually use a more slanted handwriting, so that the lines are not vertical, but the whole of his writing is artistically vertical.

A teacher: In my fourth-grade class, I do writing exercises while teaching natural history.

Dr. Steiner: You can do that. You should just make sure you do not contradict the block instruction, but keep it as a continuous exercise. It is the same as with arithmetic.

A teacher: Should I continue giving handwriting instruction in my first-grade class when I am teaching arithmetic?

Dr. Steiner: We will have to look at that.

It is, of course, desirable that you try to get the children to learn to write themselves. From our perspective, they should be able to write at least a little when they are about eight years old. We need to remember that we must bring them to where they would be in a normal elementary school.

A teacher: I have an English girl in my 6b class who does not understand German.

Dr. Steiner: You need to make her parents aware that they need to bear the consequences. Of course, you will need to allow her time to learn German.

A teacher: She has been here since September.

Dr. Steiner: She could not learn enough German in six weeks, but she should be past that by spring. You need to tell them that they will have to bear the consequences, but there is no reason why we should not accept children who cannot speak German.

A teacher asks about reading material for the fourth grade and about fairy tales.

Dr. Steiner: It would be a good idea if the Waldorf teachers would work on creating decent textbooks that reflect our pedagogical principles. I would not like to see the current textbooks in the classroom. It would be somewhat destructive to put such reading books in the classes. There are, of course, collections that are really not too bad. One such collection is by a Mr. Richter. It is a collection of sagas. It is neither trivial nor beyond the children’s grasp. Even in Grimm’s fairy tales, you always have to be selective, as there are some that are not appropriate for school.

A teacher mentions a book of sagas.

Dr. Steiner: What do you know about the things in it? If it contains Gerhardt the Good, then it is good. That is something you can use appropriately for the fourth grade. It even has some good remarks for teachers. Gerhardt the Good is wonderful reading material for that age. I discussed it from an anthroposophical perspective in a lecture in Dornach.

A teacher: The children also enjoy ballads.

Dr. Steiner: We need to make a good collection of ballads, otherwise people will think Wildenbruch is a poet. Some people say that there is a poet, Wildenbruch.

A teacher: Could we also use the book of legends in the third grade?

Dr. Steiner: You will need to tell them. In fourth grade they can read it themselves. In the third grade, let them read it only after you have told it.

A teacher asks about reading material for the fifth grade.

Dr. Steiner: There is nothing that has not been made boring. Try a few of the Greek sagas by Niebuhr. His book is not very new, but perhaps the best. Maybe a little too long, but well written.

A teacher: K.P. in the fourth grade is growing weak.

Dr. Steiner: Since when? Who had him earlier? In such things, we need to help him therapeutically. An iron cure, as I described this morning, could be given to him with the help of his parents. You don’t need to say anything more than that he is suffering from a hidden form of weak blood, and that he should take an iron cure. The school doctor should take over the problem. In that way, it can be properly overcome.

You always need to be clear about the case. Concerning K.P., use the kind of iron you get when you make an extract of chamomile root. There, you have iron in a proper balance with sulfur, calcium, and potassium. There is iron in the root of the chamomile. Do it that way. Do not use a tea, but make an extract by boiling the root.

A teacher asks about a girl in the tenth grade who is often absent because school is too strenuous for her.

Dr. Steiner: That is an illness in the soul. You should give her belladonna.

A teacher: Would a calming curative eurythmy exercise be good?

Dr. Steiner: You could do that to support the effects of the belladonna. Do you do curative eurythmy exercises with the children?

A teacher asks about a student in the 2b class.

Dr. Steiner: You should treat him through curative eurythmy, according to the principles that have been given for people who cannot walk.

A teacher: P.U. should also go into the remedial class.

Dr. Steiner: You should treat him as someone who cannot stand up. He is trying to keep himself from falling.

A teacher: P.Z. in the 4b class causes disturbances and makes unnecessary remarks.

Dr. Steiner: Aside from treating him through curative eurythmy, perhaps you could retell something he does, and in the course of telling it, you make it absurd. Try to include a similar remark in a story, where someone who makes such a remark gets totally soaked or something else happens. He should not immediately recognize what you want. You can interest him in such things. With such boys, it often happens that they have irregular brain function for a time, and that the astral body is not properly connected to the brain. Such children are then taken over by a little demon. That lasts for only a short period, but you have to do something about it. You could work with him through curative eurythmy in the same way as with someone who cannot walk. There is more discussion about Z. who has left.

Dr. Steiner: This is actually interesting. He actually falls into a short, rhythmically pathological state. He suddenly writes two lines sloppily and the remainder of the time is quite orderly. One, two, three, four, five words written orderly, and before, one word sloppily. Then, orderly again. The boy is not quite normal, that is the problem. He lacks attentiveness. He can do more than he shows, and you can see that from his handwriting. It would be a good idea if you were to write that his handwriting shows he can do more, but due to lapses in attention, he does things sporadically and worse than he needs to do them. These are like little epileptic fits that then pass.

A teacher speaks about D. in the second grade who feels he cannot do anything about it when he misbehaves.

Dr. Steiner: You should pay attention to him until he is nine years old. Until then, you need to treat him very lovingly. Perhaps you could have him do a number of symmetry exercises, so that he recognizes that he is making errors in writing. Afterward, he will become better.

If there is nothing more, we can close the meeting. I would like to again ask you to remember the difficulty we have gotten into and discussed, and also to take into account that we must not make a fiasco of the Waldorf School. That would be a terrible blow.

We need to take our work very seriously. Everyone is looking at us. We need to do things as seriously as possible. I am convinced that the more we return to the perspective of the first and second seminar courses, the better we can bring the true spirit into our work. I held the second course in order to bring the spirit into the Waldorf School. We need to take that up again so that the proper spirit is here. We may not allow ourselves to go. We certainly must bring fire into our teaching. We must have enthusiasm. That is absolutely necessary, but often lacking. We must do that, otherwise, with our method that depends so much upon the individuality of the teacher, it will be far too easy to fall into a way of working counter to our principles. The school inspector said that with normal teaching methods, average people can be teachers, but with our methods, we need geniuses. I do not think that is necessarily true, but there is something to it. So much depends upon the individual teacher, and we must emphasize and support the individuality of the teacher. The children are not participating enough because we are not bringing sufficient fire into the classroom. There is often a kind of playful element in the instruction that playfully occupies the children, but it is playful in the worst sense. Every teacher should have deep satisfaction upon entering the classroom. Basically, the students in the higher grades are not all that bad.

Have you heard anything about the explanation concerning the expelled students?

He thinks that our methods have brought us so far that we have thrown out a large number of anthroposophical children. This is really a terrible thing. I was actually surprised it was not received with bitterness, and that is what is really bitter, namely, that it was perceived that way. This is something we need to understand from the perspective of the anthroposophical movement. The way you came to me with this terrible document, there is really no difference in this treatment and what some narrow-minded bureaucrat would do. It’s that you really don’t put your soul in it, you lack fire.

A teacher: G.W.A. thought it was unjustified.

Dr. Steiner: You should speak with her, otherwise you will lose more contact with the students. It is so strange that there is so little contact between teachers and students in the upper grades. There is also none in the religion class.

A teacher: People are not satisfied with the explanation printed in the newspaper.

Dr. Steiner: People are speaking about this everywhere in the most detrimental manner. The situation is known everywhere and is being turned into a weapon. There is a whole organization forming around this. The situation is a weapon that can be well forged. Perhaps something like a parent evening would be a way we could make our standpoint clear. We need to find some way of defending the school.

There is really no enthusiasm for the anthroposophical movement. There is no feeling for how it is affected; things are simply accepted with indifference. Within a very short time things have occurred that can cause members to hang the movement, due to a lack of feeling of responsibility.

I held a course for theologians that they promised to treat as a secret. But every day, they write things in letters and, in order to save postage, they give it to someone else to carry across the border where it could easily be taken.

Someone gives information to Dr. S., who carries it only from the clinic to the laboratory, but only a few days later, Kully publishes it in his newspaper in Arlesheim. The movement is being led to the gallows by its own members due to their lack of responsibility. There is so little feeling for responsibility, and that is a very bitter thing.

That has been the case since things became public, and the anthroposophical movement ceased to be an expression of things carried privately in the heart. As soon as things came into the anthroposophical movement that required professionals, something like a kind of mildew grew upon the vitality of the movement. At the moment you put yourself upon a curule chair, enthusiasm wanes.

The faculty needs to publicly justify the expulsion of the students. In spite of the fact that I asked that they only be suspended, things progressed to the point that there was nothing else to be done other than what was done. All contact had been lost. The students were enraged. The situation was grossly mishandled. All this is expressed occultly in the symptoms.

A teacher asks about the justification.

Dr. Steiner: We cannot use the names of the students, but somehow we need to counter what is now being formed as a weapon against us. I thought there would be an opportunity to somehow defend the standpoint of the teachers. You need to look for opportunities where you can say such things.

The cause of the whole uproar was that things were turned around to look as though the teachers had spread some sort of lies about the students. This is connected with the formation of the Students’ Club, and the students felt themselves disparaged. In fact, one such disparagement was added by X. Everything has been stated as though the teachers have done something damaging to the children. It is strange that not all the students are aware of this. It seems impossible that this is not better known. Do the students go around blindfolded? I do not think that is praiseworthy. If these things are not known, the beautiful things will also not be known. I have to admit that in a way this whole affair seems a little strange to me. Basically, it is a symptom of sleepiness.