Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
6 February 1923, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: Today, we want to have our agreed-upon discussion with Dr. Kolisko on health in the school. I will not go into the details of treating students because there are a number of principle things we need to present first. They will form the basis for further work that must also occur. We will proceed, then, by selecting some typical cases that could arise here. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions about specific cases.
I would first like to draw your attention to the fact that all of our Waldorf School pedagogy has a therapeutic character. The entire teaching method is itself oriented toward healing the child. If you create a pedagogy that does the proper thing during childhood, then educating children takes on a healing aspect. In particular, if we properly handle the child as an imitative being before the change of teeth, then use authority properly, and then appropriately prepare the child to form judgments, all of that will have a thoroughly health-giving effect upon the child’s organism.
It is fundamentally necessary that the direction of our behavior at school be hygienic. That is, that the teacher, in flesh and blood, has penetrated the three aspects of the human organism. The teacher should have an instinctive feeling for each child, that is, for whether one of the three aspects of the human organism, the nerve-sense system or the rhythmic system or the metabolic -limb system, predominates, and for whether we need to stimulate one of the other systems in order to balance a harmful lack of balance in the other systems.
For that reason, we will look at the threefold human being in a way particularly important for the teacher. We have the nervesense system. We can properly understand that only if we are aware that there is a regularity in the nerve-sense system that is not subject to the physical and chemical laws of earthly matter. We need to be aware that the human being rises above the laws of earthly matter through the nerve-sense system. The form of the nerve-sense system is completely the result of prenatal life. The human nerve-sense system is received by the human being in accordance with pre-earthly life. The nerve-sense system is thus capable of independently developing all activities related to the spirit-soul, because all material laws of the nerve-sense system are removed from earthly matter.
The case is exactly the opposite with the metabolic-limb system. Of the three human systems, the metabolic-limb system depends most upon external material processes. When people understand the earthly processes playing out in physics and chemistry, they also understand which processes continue within the human being, at least to the extent that human beings have a metabolic- limb system. However, they learn nothing about the laws of the nerve-sense system.
The rhythmic system lies between these two and, in a certain way, naturally balances the two extremes.
These things form quite individually within every human being. This is particularly true of children. The activity of one system always predominates over the others, and we need to do what is necessary to create a balance. For that, we must have a capacity to really listen to how children express themselves, so that expression can become a revelation of what we need to do with the child in order to help it achieve a completely harmonious health. It is important that we become clear about the fact that, for example, we can have a beneficial effect upon the nerve-sense system by adding the proper amount of salt to the foods the children eat. Thus, if we notice that a child tends to be inattentive, to be flighty and turn away from what you present, that the child is what we might call too sanguine or too phlegmatic, we will need to see to it that we strengthen the child’s pictorial forces so that he or she becomes better able to pay attention to the outer world. We can do that by providing the child with more salt. If you have, for instance, children who are inattentive or who tend to wander, then, if you look into the matter, you will find that the child’s organism does not properly process salt.
In more severe cases, it will often not be enough to simply suggest putting more salt into the child’s food. You will notice that because of some lack of knowledge, or perhaps inattentiveness, the parents salt the food too little. There, you can help with such suggestions. It is, on the other hand, also possible that the child’s organism refuses to accept salt. In such cases, you can help achieve the proper intake of salt by using a very dilute dosage of lead compounds. Lead is what, to a certain extent, enlivens the human organism to properly process salt. Of course, if you go beyond that boundary, the organism will become ill. What is important is to achieve the proper limit, which you may notice when a child has the first traces of a tendency for mental dysfunction. That is something many children have. You will then see that you will have to bring the whole healing process into line with what I have just described.
It is certainly a major deficiency that many educational systems pay no attention to such things as, for example, the external appearance of the children. You can stand in front of a school and see both large and small-headed children. We should treat those children with larger heads, in general, in the way I just presented. Those with small heads should not be treated that way, but in a way I will shortly describe. In those children with a physically oversized head, you will be able to find what I have just described as deficiencies, namely, lack of attention or a too-strongly developed phlegma. Now, however, we have all those children who have the contrasting tendency, that is, those whose limb-metabolic system is not sufficiently active throughout their being. Of course, such children feed their organic metabolism, but what the metabolism should be for the human organism does not sufficiently extend throughout their entire being. External observation of such children shows that they like to brood over things, but that they are also very strongly irritated by external impressions, that is, they react too strongly to external impressions. We can help such children improve throughout their entire organic system by taking care that they receive the proper amount of sugar.
You should also study the development of children in the following way. There are parents who overfeed their young children with all kinds of candy and so forth. When such children come to school, from the perspective of the soul and spirit, and thus also physically, they are concerned only with themselves. They sit and brood when they do not feel enough sugar in their organism. They become nervous and irritated when they have not had enough sugar. You need to pay attention, because when such children have too little sugar for a period of time, their organism slowly decays. The organism becomes fragile, the tissue becomes brittle, and they slowly lose the capacity to properly process even the sugar in their food. For that, you need to take care to properly add sugar to their food. Nevertheless, the organism may, in a sense, refuse to properly process sugars. In that case, you again need to assist the organism by giving a small dose of silver.
Now you see how, for the teacher, the spirit-soul life of the child can become a kind of symptomatology for the proper or improper functioning of the body. If a child shows little tendency for differing imaginations, if the child simply tosses everything together in a fantasy, if it cannot properly differentiate, then the nerve-sense system is not in order. In your attempts to teach the child to differentiate, you have at the same time a symptom indicating that the nerve-sense system is not in order, and you must, therefore, do what I just described.
If a child shows too little capacity for synthetic imagining, that is, for constructive imagining where the child cannot properly picture things, if he or she is a little barbarian in art, something common in today’s children, that is a symptom that the metabolic-limb system is not in order. You must, therefore, provide assistance in the other direction, in the area of sugar. From a hygienic therapy perspective, it is very important that you look at whether differentiating imagination or analytical imagination or artistic synthetic imagination is missing in the child.
There is now something else. Imagine you have a child whose analytical imagination is clearly missing. That could also be a sign that the child is directing his or her astral body and I too much away from the nerve-sense functions. You must, therefore, see to it that the child’s head is cooled in some way, for instance, that you give the child a cool wash in the morning.
You should not underestimate such things. They are extremely important. You should certainly not see it as a kind of deviation into materialism to advise the parents of a child who shows no capacity for painting or music to give the child a warm stomach wrap two or three times per week, so that the child has it on overnight.
People today have too little respect for material measures, and they overestimate abstract intellectual measures. We can attempt to correct that modern, but incorrect, perspective, by attempting to show that the divine powers have used their spirit for the Earth in order to fulfill everything materially. Godly powers allow it to be warm in summer and cold in winter. Those are spiritual activities accomplished by divine powers through material means. Were the gods to attempt to achieve through human education, through an intellectual or moral instruction, what they can achieve by having human beings sweat in the summer and freeze in the winter, then they would be incorrect. You should never underestimate the effects of material means upon children. You should always keep them in mind.
There is also another symptom for the same organic problem that arises when there is a deficiency in synthetic thinking, namely, children become pale. Children are often pale in school. We can handle that similarly to the condition of the astral body not being properly integrated into the metabolic-limb system. You can improve the paleness of children through the same means, because when you give a child, say, a warm stomach wrap, it sets the entire metabolic-limb system into motion so that the full metabolism develops greater activity throughout all systems of the organism.
If that system develops too strongly, so that you need to make only a small remark to a child and he or she immediately gets a red face and is terribly annoyed, treat that in exactly in the same way as when the astral body and the I are not properly integrated into the nerve-sense system. In that case, you need to give the child’s head a cool washing in the morning.
It is extremely important for the teacher to be able, in a sense, to foresee the child’s state of health and act preventively. Of course, there is much less thanks for that than when you heal when the illness already exists, but for children it is much more important.
Now, of course, things that have been used upon a child’s organism to direct a process in one direction or another may need to be subdued. If you treat a child for a time with lead in the way I described, you will need to stop the process at a later time. If you have, for instance, treated a child for a time with lead and have accomplished what you wanted, it would be good to treat that child with some copper compound for a short time, so that nothing remains of the lead process. If you found it necessary to treat a child with silver for a period, you should later treat him or her with iron, so that the inner process is arrested.
There is one more thing I want to say. If you notice a child is, in a sense, lost in its organism, that is, does not have the requisite inner firmness — for example, the child suffers a great deal from diarrhea or is clumsy when moving its limbs, so that it dangles its arms and legs when picking up things and then lets them fall again — such things are the first symptoms of what will develop into processes that strongly affect the person’s health later in life. You should never ignore it when a child often has diarrhea or urinates too much or picks things up so clumsily that they fall again or shows any kind of clumsiness in grasping objects. You should never simply ignore such things. A teacher should always keep a sharp eye open for such things as, for example, whether a child dexterously or clumsily holds a pencil or chalk when writing upon the board. In that way, you can act as a hygienic doctor. I mention these things because you cannot accomplish very much by simply reprimanding the child. Only someone who is always active in the class can affect anything. On the other hand, you can achieve a great deal through external therapeutic means. If you give the child in such a case a small dose of phosphorus, you will see that it will become relatively easy to reach the child with reprimands about clumsiness, even with organic weaknesses of the sort I just described. Give the child phosphorus, or if the problem is deeper, for example, when the child tends toward flatulence, use sulfur. If the problem is more visible outwardly, then phosphorus. In such cases, suggest to the parents that they should feed the child foods connected with colorfully flowering plant blossoms. Speaking in an extreme case, suppose a child often wets the bed. Then you can accomplish a great deal through a therapeutic treatment with phosphorus, but still more by working with the diet. Suggest adding some paprika or pepper to the food as long as the condition persists. You will need to determine that based upon the child’s further development.
In such questions, it is absolutely necessary that members of the faculty work together properly. We are in the fortunate situation of having Dr. Kolisko as the medical member of our faculty, and we should not undertake such therapies without speaking with him first, since a certain understanding of chemical and physiological things is necessary to arrive at the correct opinion. Nevertheless, every teacher needs to develop an eye for such things.
I once again need to take this opportunity of mentioning that in teaching it is of primary importance to take care to bring the nerve-sense system and the metabolic-limb system into a proper balance. When that is not done, it shows up as irregularities of the rhythmic system. If you notice the slightest inclination toward irregularity in breathing or in the circulation, then you should immediately pay attention to it. The rhythmic system is the organic barometer of improper interaction between the head and the limb-metabolic system. If you notice something, you should immediately ask what is not in order in the interaction of these two systems, and second, you should be clear that in teaching you need to alternate between an element that brings the child to his or her periphery, to the periphery of the child’s body, with another element that causes the child to withdraw within. Today, I cannot go into all the details of a hygienic schoolroom; that is something we can speak of next time.
A teacher who teaches for two hours without in some way causing the children to laugh is a poor teacher, because the children never have cause to go to the surface of their bodies. A teacher who can never move the children in such a way as to cause them to withdraw into themselves is also a poor teacher. There must be an alternation, grossly expressed, between a humorous mood when the children laugh, although they need not actually laugh, but they must have some inner humorous feeling, and the tragic, moving feeling when they cry, although they do not need burst into tears, but they must move into themselves. You must bring some life into teaching. That is a hygienic rule. You must be able to bring humor into the instruction.
If you bring your own heaviness into class, justified as it may be in your private life, you should actually not be a teacher. You really must be able to bring the children to experience the periphery of their body. If you can do it in no other way, you should try to at least tell some funny story at the end of the period. If you have caused them to work hard during the period on something serious, so that their faces are physically cramped from the strain on their brains, you should at least conclude with some funny story. That is very necessary.
There are, of course, all kinds of possibilities for error in this regard. You could, for example, seriously damage the children’s health if you have them work for an entire period upon what is normally called grammar. You might have children work only with the differences between subject, object, adjective, indicative, and subjunctive cases, and so forth, that is, with all kinds of things in which the child is only half-interested. You would then put the child in the position that, while determining whether something is in the indicative or the subjunctive case, the child’s breakfast cooks within the child, uninfluenced by his or her soul. You would, therefore, prepare for a time, perhaps fifteen or twenty years later, when genuine digestive disturbances or intestinal illnesses, and so forth, could occur. Intestinal illnesses are often caused by grammar instruction. That is something that is extremely important. Certainly, the whole mood the teacher brings into school transfers to the children through a tremendous number of very subtle connections.
A great deal has been said on various occasions during our earlier discussions on this topic. The inner enlivening of our Waldorf School teaching still requires considerable improvement in that direction. Even though I might say something positive, I would nevertheless emphasize that it is highly desirable, even though I am aware that we cannot always achieve ideals immediately, for Waldorf teachers to teach without preconceptions. teachers should really be so prepared that they can give their classes without preconceptions, that is, that the teacher does not need to resort to prepared notes during class. If the teacher needs to look at prepared notes to see what to do, the necessary contact with the students is interrupted. That should never occur. That is the ideal. I am not saying this just to complain, but to make you aware of something fundamental. All these things are hygienically important. The mood of the teacher lives on in the mood of the children, and for that reason, you need to have a very clear picture of what you want to present to the class. In that way, you can more easily help children who have metabolic difficulties than if you had the children sit in a classroom and taught them everything from a book.
It is a fact that in earlier periods of human development, teaching was generally understood as healing. At that time, people understood the human organism as tending to cause illness itself and knew that teaching brought a continual healing. It is extraordinarily good to become aware that, in a certain sense, every teacher is a doctor for the child.
In order to have healthy children in school, teachers must know how to overcome themselves. You should actually attempt to keep your private self out of the class. Instead, you should picture the material you want to present during a given class. In that way, you will become the material, and what you are as the material will have an extraordinarily enlivening effect upon the entire class. teachers should feel that when they are not feeling well, they should, at least when they are teaching, overcome their ill feeling as far as possible. That will have a very favorable effect upon the children. In such a situation, teachers should believe that teaching is health-giving for themselves. They should think to themselves that while teaching, they can move away from being morose and toward becoming lively.
Imagine for a moment you go into a classroom, and a child is sitting there. After school, the child goes home. At home — of course, I am referring to a different cause, I am not saying the teaching would cause this — the child needs to be given an emetic by the parents. Of course, that could not have been caused by the instruction given by Waldorf teachers, that would only occur in other schools. However, if you went into a class with the attitude that teaching enlivens me and brings me out of my morose state, you could spare the child the medicine. The child can digest better when you have the right attitude in the classroom. In general, a moral attitude of the teacher is significantly hygienic.
This is what I wanted to say to you today. We will continue to work on this later.
Is there anything in particular you would like to ask me now?
A teacher: I had wondered about how the three systems relate to the temperaments.
Dr. Steiner: Phlegmatic and sanguine temperaments are connected with the nerve-sense system; choleric and melancholic with the metabolic system.
A teacher: You spoke of flighty children having large heads. In my class, I have a very flighty child with a small head.
Dr. Steiner: A small head is connected with brooding and reflecting, whereas large-headed children are more flighty. If that is not the case, your judgment is incorrect. A small-headed child who is very flighty has not been evaluated from the proper perspective. You can orient yourself with these things. You first need to look at the nature of the child from the proper perspective. Show me the child some time. It is possible to mistake a child’s brooding for superficiality. It is possible that the brooding is hidden behind a kind of superficiality. That is easily possible with children. A teacher: Is this description valid for a specific age?
Dr. Steiner: It is valid until approximately the age of seventeen or eighteen.
A teacher asks about a girl in one of the upper grades who often wants to drink vinegar.
Dr. Steiner: You can understand that by seeing that the child has absolutely no tendency toward concentration. She lacks a capacity for concentration, but now and then she has to concentrate upon something, not because of outside demands, but from her own organism. She wants to rid herself of that requirement by drinking vinegar. She simply cannot concentrate, so the physical body demands it sometimes. She tries to overcome it by drinking vinegar, but you should not allow it.
A teacher: How can we work with children who absolutely cannot concentrate?
Dr. Steiner: With such children it might not be so bad if you tried to give them something moderately sweet, that is, to put them more on a sweet, rather than a salty, diet.
A teacher asks about a girl in the first grade.
Dr. Steiner: First try to get the parents to give her a warm stomach wrap, perhaps even a little damp, for a longer period, so that the astral body becomes more firmly seated in the limb-metabolic being. Silver would be the right remedy for her. For her, much depends upon getting the metabolic-limb system to take over the activities of the astral body. Give her silver and stomach wraps. She is a child who does not live in herself and is not in her metabolism at all. You need to have the entire picture when attempting to treat specific cases.
The school doctor: I thought we would arrange things later on so that I can see the children everyday.
Dr. Steiner: Today, I was speaking specifically about children’s organisms. Perhaps it would be good go through this again in relation to the physicians’ course, so we could be more specific.
We now have a report about the new administrative organization.
A teacher: I wrote the report about what we decided at the last meeting. It contains the results of the work of the preparatory committee. The other things we need to do are the concern of the administrative committee.
Dr. Steiner: Perhaps it would be good if faculty members said something about any of the individual points they think we need to speak about.
Current committee administrator: I think it is important that we work toward a new attitude in our meetings. There should be no one here who thinks the meetings are not necessary. The indifference we now bring to our meetings must disappear. I think we could bring an attitude to the meetings that would give them some meaning. I think our meetings would then have something that was much stronger earlier, when the effects of the seminar were still active in us. This is not a new thought. We will try to leave the concerns of the administrative committee outside the meetings.
The parents have asked for a lecture.
Dr. Steiner: We first must work with the Anthroposophical Society so that it can continue to exist, so we will have to put that off. I feel like I have contracted lockjaw from the bad attitude toward the meetings.
A teacher: We should not present things to the full plenum that we can easily take care of in private discussions. Bad forces have taken over the meetings. I have given some thought to how we could form the meetings so that only good forces are present.
Dr. Steiner: As in all such things, those who are most dissatisfied with our gatherings could do the most toward making them better by personally trying to make them better. If the meetings appear ugly, couldn’t you try to make them as nice as possible? If you notice they are difficult for you, and that you need to rid yourself of something after the meeting, then the situation will be better if you behave so that others will feel good when they leave. At the next meeting, you will also feel better. We should not ask anything from the meetings, but rather believe we should give. It is not very fruitful to criticize such things; instead try to improve things in yourself.
Much of what you have said concerns the interactions of faculty members and really requires much more consideration than you give it. We can say that, aside from some individual things that need improvement, the teaching has been very satisfactory recently. It has greatly improved. In contrast, there is a certain coldness, a kind of frigidity, in the interactions between faculty members. The meetings can create a bad atmosphere only if that coldness becomes too great. We can counteract that by working with the interactions between teachers.
When you say you cannot meet one another at the meetings, that seems rather strange to me in a group that is together from morning to night and sees one another during every break. During every break you have an opportunity for smiling at one another, for speaking in a friendly way to each other, for exchanging warmth. There are so many opportunities for developing a certain kind of vivacity, that I cannot understand why you need to do that only in the meetings. In the meetings, we should each present our best side. The problem is that you simply pass by one another and do not smile enough at each other. We can certainly speak the truth bluntly to one another, as that aids digestion and hurts nothing when said at the proper time. On the other hand, though, our relationships must be such that each one knows that the others feel that way about me not only because I am sympathetic or unsympathetic, but also because I am a teacher in the Waldorf School. That is something that is generally necessary in anthroposophy here in Stuttgart. Here, people meet one another in the Anthroposophical Society in just the same way as they would anywhere else, but what is necessary is that they meet one another in a certain way because the other is also an anthroposophist. teachers should meet one another in the Waldorf School in just the same way. That gives a special tone in every expression made during the school breaks, whether smiling or making accusations. I see too many sour faces. We need to pay more attention to that.
That is why I got a kind of lockjaw when there was so much discussion about the bad atmosphere in the meetings, because it meant that there must be a bad attitude toward one another, or an attitude of indifference. I cannot understand why there isn’t an atmosphere of great happiness when all the Waldorf teachers sit around one table. The proper attitude would be to think to ourselves, we haven’t had a meeting for a week, but now I am so happy to be able to sit with everyone again. When I see that is not the case, I get a kind of cramp. There should be no Waldorf teachers who do not look on the others with good intent. We do not need to resolve questions of conscience here in the plenum. When we have such relationships between members of the faculty, we can certainly take care of those questions individually. I can easily imagine everything moving quite smoothly.
It would certainly be quite nice if the teachers met now and then for a picnic. Each of you should try to make the meetings as lively as possible for everyone, so there is no need to complain. If someone thought of complaining, they should change their thought into asking, “What should I do so that things are better next time?” Otherwise, they would be a kind of outcast, and they would be that only if they had a bad attitude toward the meetings. Are there any other malcontents?
A teacher: The problem of discipline is continually discussed without any positive conclusion.
Dr. Steiner: In general, there are a number of things we could object to regarding discipline in the lower grades, but in the upper grades there is not so much. I do not know how you could expect to have better behaved children. They are just average children. Aside from the fact that the children in the lower grades need to be more active, I can only say that, in a certain sense, I have seen classes that are really very good in regard to discipline. This question of discipline can be a cause of distress forever, and if it were, we would have to discuss it continually. We cannot have the attitude that we do not want to discuss the question of discipline in our meetings simply because it is unpleasant. That is exactly why we do need to discuss it. I would like to mention a concern about discipline that has a kind of legendary significance. This may be important only outside of the school, in the [Waldorf-Astoria] Company. Many of you may think this is not a question for our meetings, but I do not know which members of the faculty I would call together to discuss this problem. In this question, we do not need to point to one person or another.
There may be teachers in the Waldorf School who slap the children, and so forth. That is something I would like to take care of in private discussions. I have heard it said that the Waldorf teachers hit the children, and we have discussed that often. The fact is, you cannot improve discipline by hitting the children, that only worsens things. That is something you must take into account. Perhaps no one wants to say anything about this, but my question is whether that is simply a story that has been spread like so many other lies, or have children, in fact, been slapped in the Waldorf School? If that has occurred, it could ruin a great deal. We must hold the ideal of working without doing that; discipline will also be better if we can avoid it.
A teacher: I teach English to the eighth grade, and I found the discipline there terrible.
Dr. Steiner: What do you as the class teacher have to say? The teacher reports.
Dr. Steiner: It would be pedagogically incorrect if we did not take the personal relationship to the children into sufficient account. It is certainly difficult to create, but you must create it and you can create it in individual cases. You should, however, remember that our language instruction is extremely uneven. In spite of the fact that we have a Waldorf pedagogy, there is, for example, sometimes too much grammar in the classes, and the children cannot handle that. Sometimes I absolutely do not understand how you can keep the children quiet at all when you are talking, as sometimes happens, about adverbs and subjunctive cases and so forth. Those are things for which normal children have no interest whatsoever. In such instances, children remain disciplined only because they love the teacher. Given how grammar is taught in language class, there should be no cause for any complaints in that regard. We can really discuss the question only if all the language teachers in the Waldorf School meet in order to find some way of not always talking about things the children do not understand. That, however, is so difficult because there are so many things to do. What is important is that the children can express themselves in the language, not that they know what an adverb or a conjunction is. They learn that, of course, but the way such things are done in many of the classes I have seen, it is not yet Waldorf pedagogy. That is, however, something we need to discuss here in the meetings. There are so many language teachers here and each goes their own way and pays no attention to what the others do, but there are many possibilities for helping one another. I can easily imagine that the children become restless because they do not know what you expect of them. We have handled language class in a haphazard way for too long.
A teacher: We language teachers have already begun.
Dr. Steiner: Recently, I was in a class and the instruction had to do with the present and imperfect tenses. What do you expect the children to do with that when it is not taught in Latin class? How should they understand these expressions? You need to feel that there is so much that is not natural to human beings, particularly in grammar. It is clear that in schools where discipline is maintained through external means, discipline is easier to maintain than where the children are held together through the value of the instruction. I am not saying that such expressions as present and indicative should be done away with, but that you should work with them in such a way that the children can do something with them. What I noticed was that the children did not know what to do with such expressions.
A teacher: There is examination fever in the highest grade. The middle grades are missing the basics.
Dr. Steiner: That is not what they are missing. Look for what they are missing in another area. That is not what they are missing! It is very difficult to say anything when I am not speaking about a class in a specific language, since I find them better than the grammar instruction. Most of our teachers teach foreign languages better than they teach grammar. I think the main problem is that the teachers do not know grammar very well; the teachers do not carry a living grammar within them. Please excuse me that I am upset that you now want to use our meeting to learn grammar. I have to admit that I find the way you use grammar terms horrible. If I were a student, I certainly would not pay attention. I would be noisy because I would not know why people are forcing all of these things into my head. The problem is that you do not use time well, and the teachers do not learn how to acquire a reasonable ability in grammar. That, then, affects the students. The instruction in grammar is shocking, literally. It is purely superficial, so that it is one of the worst things done at school. All the stuff in the grammar books should actually be destroyed in a big bonfire. Life needs to come into it. Then, the problem is that the students do not get a feeling for what the present or past tense is when they really should have a lively feeling for them. The genius of language must live in the teacher. That is also true for teaching German. You torture the children with so much terminology. Do not be angry with me, but it is really so. If you used mathematical terminology the same way you do grammatical terminology, you would soon see how horrible it is. All your horrible habits do not allow you to see how terrible the grammar classes are. This is caused by the culture that has used language to mistreat Europe for such a terribly long time, it has used a language that was not livingly integrated, namely, Latin. That is why we have such a superficial connection to language. That is how things are. The little amount of spirit that comes into grammar comes through Grimm, and that is certainly something we need to admire. Nevertheless, it is only a little spirit. As it is taught today, grammar is the most spiritless thing there is, and that gives a certain color to teaching. I must say there is much more to it than what we do. It is just horrible. We cannot always have everything perfect, which is why I do not always want to criticize and complain. You need a much better inner relationship to language, and then your teaching of language will become better.
It is not always the children’s fault when they do not pay attention in the language classes. Why should they be interested in what an adverb is? That is just a barbaric word. Things only become better when you continually bring in relationships, when you repeatedly come back to the connections between words. If you simply make a child memorize and yourself have no interest in what you had them memorize, the children will no longer learn anything by heart. They will do that only if you return to the subject again in a different connection so that they see there is some sense in learning.
You should not so terribly misunderstand some things, Mr. X. I got a kind of cramp when I saw how you presented The Chymical Wedding today. I said you could do that if you wanted to learn about spiritual activity for yourself, but then you did it in class. After you have done the conclusion, you will see how impossible it is to do The Chymical Wedding in school. It could be very useful if you know something about it yourself, as then you can handle other things appropriately. Now, however, you can do nothing more than present the question of the kings in The Chymical Wedding as pictorially as possible so that the children become aware of how one theme makes a transition into another.
A teacher: How should I do that?
Dr. Steiner: The theme of the three kings goes throughout it. You can find it in The Chymical Wedding and again in Goethe’s Tales. You could show how the same idea was active over centuries, and then tell stories about other themes that lived for centuries. There are a large number of such themes. If you recall, I once mentioned to you how you can see Faust and Mephistopheles as Robert and Trast in Sudermann’s Ehre.
A teacher: In the tenth-grade art class I showed how Schiller developed the word into a musical effect in The Bride of Messina and how Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony moved toward the word through human voice. In the end, Beethoven met Schiller in the “Ode to Joy.” Richard Wagner felt this quite strongly.
Dr. Steiner: It may be quite important to emphasize this relationship of Schiller to Beethoven. That is something the children will feel quite deeply at their age. You can best carry out what you wanted to say about Parzival if you also put the choir in Schiller’s Bride of Messina at the center.