Practical Advice to Teachers

Rudolf Steiner

Translated by Johanna Collis
Erziehungskunst Methodisch-Didaktisches
GA 294

Schmidt Date   Comments
3802 August 21, 1919    Introduction, Remarks on Artistic Activity. Reading, writing and arithmetic.
3805 August 22, 1919    Language; the Oneness of Man with the Universe
3808 August 23, 1919    Sculpture and Painting, Music and Poetry
3812 August 25, 1919    The First School Lesson; Manual Skill; Drawing and Painting; the Beginnings of Language
3815 August 26, 1919    Writing, Reading and Spelling
3818 August 27, 1919    The Rhythm of Life and Rhythmical Repetition in Teaching
3821 August 28, 1919    Teaching at the Age of Nine; Natural History; the Animal Kingdom
3824 August 29, 1919    Education after the Age of Twelve; History and Physics
3827 August 30, 1919    Teaching of Languages
3831 September 1, 1919    Subjects and Methods Until the Age of Nine, Twelve and Fourteen
3835 September 2, 1919    Teaching Geography
3838 September 3, 1919    How to Connect School with Practical Life
3841 September 4, 1919    Drawing up the Schedule
3844 September 5, 1919    Moral Educative Principles and Their Transition to Practice
3849 September 6, 1919    Closing Remarks


August 21, 1919
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Introduction, Remarks on Artistic Activity. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
Harmonizing the higher (Spirit-Soul) with the lower (physical body) aspects of the human being as the goal of the methodology. Reading and writing as the completely physical, arithmetic as the partially super-physical, and artistic activity as the super-physical areas of teaching. The connection of the three impulses through rationally directed teaching, exemplified by the introduction of the letter "F." The development of letters from pictograms. The necessity of permeating instruction with an artistic element. The effects of artistic activity upon the Will. Education as an art. "Moving from the whole to the particular" is the foundation of the methodology. Examples from instruction in writing and arithmetic. Caring for the proper feeling toward authority. Awakening interest through instruction in drawing. Preparation and development of specific capabilities at particular ages, exemplified by eurythmy at the age of three to four. Caring for the etheric and physical bodies "from above" through the head aspect and for the astral body and I "from below" by awakening feelings in the child. Finding comparisons for the Spirit-Soul in nature; the example of the immortal soul and the butterfly.

August 22, 1919
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Language; the Oneness of Man with the Universe
How sympathy meets antipathy in the human head aspect through sense activity and in the human chest aspect through speech. Speech is anchored in feeling. The linguistic 'bow-wow' and 'ding-dong' theories. The expression of inner soul movement through vowels. The nuances of astonishment in 'O', of fear in 'U', of awe in 'A' of resistance in 'E', of merging with something in 'I' and of respect in 'AOU'. The imitation of things in the consonants and their antipathetic aspect. Speech is a synthesis of the vowel's musical element and the consonant's sculptural element. Words are an expression of form in German and of the soul in the Romance languages (Kopf-testa [head], Fuß-pes [foot]). The importance of the number 25,920: it is the number of breaths we take per day, the number of days in our life and the number of years in the Platonic year. The human being as a cosmic breath. Understanding the relationship of the human being to the cosmos is the basis of education. The relationship of thinking to life before birth, of feeling to life, and willing to life after death. The proper use of antipathy and sympathy to develop reason and will. Karmic relationships between pupil and teacher.

August 23, 1919
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Sculpture and Painting, Music and Poetry
The two artistic streams: the sculptural-pictorial arts and the musical-poetic arts. The Greek tendency toward sculpture, the Judaic tendency toward music and their unification in eurythmy. Introducing children to the world of colors by developing their feelings for the nuances of color. The creation of natural forms from color. Drawing as an abstracting process. The transition from abstract art to concrete craft. The importance of bringing things to children that they do not yet understand. Using music and poetry in teaching. Creating uniqueness through sculpting. Supporting social life through music and poetry. Emphasizing the musical aspect in reciting and working with poetry. Comments on the inner structure of the lectures. Comments on the nature of singing: the connection of the cosmic melody with human speech. Singing as an expression of the underlying wisdom of the world. Imitating cosmic order through sculpting. Creating the new through music and poetry. Studying nature in school in contrast to observing the beauty of nature outdoors.

August 25, 1919
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The First School Lesson; Manual Skill; Drawing and Painting; the Beginnings of Language
The importance of the first hour of school. Developing respect for adults and culture. Speaking with children about the material to be learned. Becoming aware of habitual behavior. Avoiding triviality in teaching. The effects of repetition upon developing the will with practical examples: awakening the hands through drawing straight and curved lines, painting surfaces different colors, creating harmonious and dissonant tones. How to awaken a feeling for beauty and for what is less beautiful. Creating hope. Intent in connection with what should be learned. The importance of grammar: lifting speech to consciousness. Comments on the differing human processes connected with different kinds of words: nouns - separation from the object, adjectives - unity with the object, verbs - integrating the I with the object. Eurythmy as a revelation of the activity of the audience and as a healing influence upon the soul. The effects of the genius of language upon language structure. The effects of language in earlier times (the ancient Jewish culture as an example). Awakening the proper feeling of I in the child through the form of language instruction.

August 26, 1919
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Writing, Reading, and Spelling
The foundation of reading and writing. The path from drawing to writing (Examples: "B" - bath, bear, and "M" - mouth) according to the principles of how handwriting developed from the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians to the Phoenician characters to modern letters. Consonants as an expression of external things and vowels as a representation of feelings. The development of vowels from breathing (examples "A" and "I"). Bringing about a feeling for cultural development (exemplified by the introduction of "D"). Organic handwriting. Pottkam's Method: the unification of orthography as a social event; cursive writing is based upon authority and the development of respect.

August 27, 1919
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The Rhythm of Life and Rhythmical Repetition in Teaching
Experimental psychology in the pedagogical realm exemplified by how reading is comprehended. The goal is to unveil the senses. The result of normal education is cognitive comprehension. The theosophical movement overemphasizes unveiling the senses. Developing the will through artistic and repeated activities. Developing feeling through memorization of facts not yet understood by the child. The importance of observing the soul, a more profound observation of life and knowledge of some of the secrets of life in teaching. Why the teacher's rising through the grades with the class is necessary for developing a capacity to enter into the rhythms of life. Rhythmical repetition as a principle of education. The uselessness of the results of experimental psychology concerning memory in connection with an inner pedagogy. The after effects of the Greco-Roman period upon modern pedagogy.

August 28, 1919
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Teaching at the Age of Nine; Natural History; the Animal Kingdom
Teaching methods and material in country and city schools. Teaching materials and natural history instruction beginning at the age of nine. The human being as a summarization of the other natural realms. Description of human form elements. The tendencies and tasks of the main elements of the human being: the head (spherical form) the trunk (sickle form) and the limbs (set into the trunk). Viewing the world through the head. The self-serving service of the feet and the selfless service of the hands. The transition into the animal kingdom. An artistic description of animals: the squid and mouse as examples. Development of differences. The organization of the limbs - the most perfect element of the human being. The arms and hands as a picture of human freedom. The head character of the lower animals, the trunk character of the higher animals and the limb character of the human being. The human being as a starting point for teaching natural history. Strengthening self-awareness at the age of nine. Goethe's view of nature. Schiller's "Letters on human aesthetic education" and Jean Paul's "Levana" - important pedagogical works.

August 29, 1919
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Education after the Age of Twelve; History and Physics
Forming the curriculum: external rules and genuine human understanding. Remarks about the human being as a synthesis of the natural world around the age of nine. Strengthening the spirit-soul between the ages of twelve and thirteen: the beginning of understanding of historical impulses and connections. Discussion of physical processes between the age of nine and twelve and their use with human beings after the age of twelve. The eye as an example. The development of physical concepts. Air movements in a heated room as an example. The child's unconscious registering of contradictions exemplified by the electrostatic machine and the theory of lightening. The importance of retaining a proper childlike quality by the teacher. Morse telegraphy as an example of a feeling comprehension of physical processes. Introducing the concept of gravity as a stream of physical substance in one direction and comparing that with the currents of air in an empty room. Unhealthy concepts in modern culture: Einstein's theory of relativity.

August 30, 1919
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Teaching of Languages
Achieving the legally required learning goals through efficient teaching: removal of those things which burden the soul's development. Teaching foreign languages: translating is a waste of time and should be replaced by telling stories in the child's own language and the foreign language. The connection of teaching foreign languages to grammar: conclusion, judgment, and concept. Sentences without a subject as the starting point. Using sentences connected with practical life or the inner nature of the language. Practice using the rules of grammar: giving examples and allowing the children to discover them. Avoid driving them home though writing. How languages support one another by being taught in parallel and by the same teacher.

September 1, 1919
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Subjects and Methods Until the Age of Nine, Twelve and Fourteen
The structure of the curriculum for the three stages in elementary school. 1. Instruction until the age of nine: art as the beginning point. Connection of written forms to cosmic forms in teaching writing. Stenography. Education as a healing process. 2. Instruction from the age of nine until twelve: Increased development of self-awareness with the help of grammar, natural history, geometry, foreign languages and physics. 3. Instruction from the age of twelve until fourteen: Syntax, connecting mineralogy with geometry and physics. History, Geography. Working with gifted and slow children. Teaching foreign language: Conversation, connecting grammar and syntax as something retained by the memory. Homework. Practicing an exact retelling of things seen or heard instead of free-form essays. Connecting the will with the intellect in language instruction. Teaching geometry through illustration: the Pythagorean Theorem as an example. Overview of the curriculum for the three stages in elementary school.

September 2, 1919
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Teaching Geography
Beginning geography at the age of nine by creating a map of the vicinity in order to awaken an idea of the economic connections between what exists in nature and human living conditions. The transition to wider relationships with the geography of the Alps as an example. Connecting geography with mineralogy. How to treat vegetation, characteristics of the soil, and how the human being fits into the surroundings. A slow connection of geography with history and treatment of the entire Earth around the age of twelve. The relationship of cultures and differences in character of the various peoples. Making a connection between the child's life and life in the world. Unifying instruction through geography. The concentration of instruction by working on the same subject for a longer period of time. Moving from the whole to the individual in mineralogy and biology, and from the individual to the whole in zoology.

September 3, 1919
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How to Connect School with Practical Life
The importance of training the sub- and unconscious forces of the soul. The general lack of knowledge of modern people in connection with the surroundings created by human thought, in particular, technology. Certainty of activity and capacity of the will and decisiveness in later life is based upon gaining an understanding of technical and economic processes. The modern tendency toward specialization in education and life, in contrast to the unifying ideal which can fill the human soul. Providing thirteen to fifteen-year-olds with too much sentimental idealism results in a materialistic attitude in later life. Caring for the child's idealism by giving them practice in life. Example of that: bookkeeping and business letters. The significance of connecting various areas of instruction for the development of the child. An example: teaching religion.

September 4, 1919
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Drawing up the Schedule
The compromises needed between the ideal Waldorf School curriculum and those of other schools. Intellectually oriented instruction between the ages of seven and twelve leads to an "old age" attitude in youth, exemplified by the desires for reform of modern youth. The curriculum of the first grade between the ideal and the requirements of the outside world. Writing and reading. The transition of dialect to educated conversation through telling stories and things experienced. The beginnings of grammar (vowels, consonants and kinds of words). Development of the Will though drawing, painting, music, gymnastics and eurythmy. Penmanship. Proper pronunciation is a pre-condition for good grammar. Enlivening intellectual concepts through the forces of the will and feeling; the Pythagorean theorem as an example. Comparison of articulation in various foreign languages around the age of thirteen or fourteen.

September 5, 1919
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Moral Educative Principles and Their Transition to Practice
Teaching plans now and then. How pedagogy has been absorbed by laws. The threat of socialist tyranny in the area of teaching and education. The transformation of morality in pedagogy into teaching practice. How modern illustrative teaching kills phantasy. How phantasy is developed through what is not said. The close connection of the child to the physical body during the first years of school is a basis for nutrition and health. Remarks about nutrition and health near the end of elementary school. The creation of egotism by too much emphasis upon health and nutrition. The three stages of elementary school. the path from instinct to judgment: natural history and basic concepts of business.

September 6, 1919
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Concluding Remarks
Four requirements of teachers: The teacher is 1. A person of initiative, 2. A person interested in everything in the world and in other people, 3. A person always striving for truth, and 4. A person with a lively and fresh attitude of the soul. The effects of the impulses from this course upon the soul will help in teaching. How important the success of the Waldorf School is. The connection of cosmic spiritual forces with spiritual movements of the present.