Steiner discusses all three of these topics on Day Five in his Discussions with Teachers: speech, temperaments, and misbehavior.
We want to “cultivate clear articulation” through constant practice to make our speech organs flexible. Rudolf Steiner asks Mrs. Steiner to say certain sentences artistically first (they are tongue twisters and sentences without any real meaning) and then each teacher repeats. Steiner says that artistic speech harmonizes body, soul and spirit. A compelling reason to include speech exercises in our daily rhythm!
He suggests we might even practice putting pebbles on the tongue to strengthen our voice like Demosthenes did in order that the ancient Athenians could hear his speeches!
In this afternoon lecture, teachers bring more questions on the temperaments. Steiner responds, “Since the individual child must be our primary consideration in teaching,” we study the temperaments. He describes grouping the children according to temperament so that individualization can happen in the classroom. We all know that in a homeschool setting, individualization is so much simpler and more organic. Steiner says to the first teachers: “Naturally when we have a class it is not possible to treat each child individually.” Well, naturally when at home, we can!
This discussion closes with talk of how to handle misbehavior. On the afternoon of the day before, Steiner had asked the teachers what they would do if one child incited bad behavior and the whole class joined in. Here are some of his comments in response:
- It is a very practical method to wait for something like this to wear out so that the children stop doing it on their own.
- You should always be able to distinguish whether something is done out of malice or high spirits.
- Even the best teachers will have naughtiness in the class, but if a whole class takes part it is usually the teacher’s fault. (Or in our case, if all the children are misbehaving, it’s probably our fault!)
- If there has been any damage, then of course it should be corrected and the children themselves must do this – not by paying for it, but with their own hands.
- And remember, humor is also a good method of reducing things to an absurdity, especially minor faults.
- The most important thing here is that you should evoke feelings that will lead them away from naughtiness. A harsh punishment on the part of the teacher would only cause fear…It would never inspire the children to do better.
- …do just what the pupils are doing – say, for example, when the pupils are grumbling, “Well, I can certainly grumble too!” In this way the matter is treated homeopathically…Homeopathic treatment is excellent for moral education.
Good common sense, on Steiner’s part! We must keep our cool and get the children to see the situation with their feelings – we simply can’t carry on if things are going awry. All the while, we must look to ourselves and see what needs adjusting to help our lessons flow more smoothly.
Steiner concludes: remember to watch out for not only the trouble makers but the “goody-goodies” as well:)
And that’s it for Day Five of the Teacher’s Seminar. We are one third of the way through the training; ten more days and the school opens its doors!
The Steiner Cafe is a place to explore and reflect on the lectures that Rudolf Steiner gave at the Teacher’s Seminar in 1919, the very first Waldorf teacher training. Each month here, we ponder one day of the seminar.
To read reflections on previous lectures, check out The Steiner Cafe page.
These lectures are published in three books; the morning lectures in The Foundations of Human Experience; later morning lectures in Practical Advice to Teachers; and afternoon lectures in Discussions with Teachers. We invite you to pick up the books and read along.
If you prefer, you can read online at www.rsarchive.org, or listen at www.rudolfsteineraudio.com. Or, just meet us here each Thursday or Friday at The Steiner Cafe for some lively discussion. Lot’s of options! Hope you’ll join us.