Discussions With Teachers- Discussion One

This lecture was part of the afternoon sessions given to the teachers of the very first Waldorf School.   Steiner begins this lecture talking about the important of the relationship to the children and notes, “The important thing for us to remember is the diversity of children and indeed that of all human beings.”  He goes on to talk about the four fundamental types of temperaments within the diversity of all human beings – the sanguine, the melancholic, the phlegmatic, and the choleric – and the four-fold development of the human being (the “I”, the astral body, the etheric body, and the physical body).  The development of the four-fold human being ties into the four temperaments, because the domination by one of the four bodies leads to a primary temperament type.  In this way, the dominance of the “I” leads to a melancholic temperament, the astral body dominance leads to the choleric temperament, the dominance of the etheric body to the sanguine, and the physical body leads to the phlegmatic temperament.

Steiner goes on the describe the four temperaments in this way:

  • Interested in different things but only for a short time and  quickly loses interest – sanguine
  • Inner reflection and brooding, active inwardly, not easy to give them impressions of the outer world – melancholic
  • Not actively inwardly but also no interest in the outer world (least amount of strength and attention)- phlegmatic
  • Expression of the will in a “blustering way”; strength of response and attention easily aroused – choleric

Steiner talks about how to group the children by temperament, which is of course, near to impossible in the home environment, but he gives wonderful examples of which temperament to turn to in order to illustrate particular lessons or to teach a certain way.  He also talks about how the teacher must develop their own attitude in dealing with different temperaments, and how the worst thing to do is to take the opposite qualities of one temperament and try to force this on the child.  Choleric and phlegmatic temperaments are opposite to one another, and melancholic and sanguine temperaments are opposite of one another; other temperaments are next to each other and therefore merge into one another (there is a diagram in this part of the lecture).  He talks about how by the tenth year the temperaments will be gradually “overcome.”  

Steiner  then talks about in the “main lesson ” portion of things:  the first year is mainly fairy tales, the second year animal life in story form (fables), the Bible as general history apart and different from religious lessons is the third year (and remember, teaching “religion” in a Waldorf School at that time was due to government requirements, not Steiner’s wishes), and then scenes from ancient (fourth class), medieval (5th class), and modern history (6th class), the discovery of different cultures within a country and  around the world (7th and 8th classes), and art lessons as training of the will. He also mentions the arts, gymnastics, eurythmy, drawing, and painting to all work on the will and how languages will be taught separate from the Main Lesson and how specialty teachers will be needed for the art subjects and the language lessons (so good for us to hear as homeschoolers!  We weren’t meant to do all the pieces of this!)    He talks about no more than three and a half hours of school per day (main lesson for hour and a half, telling of stories for half an hour, and then an hour for artistic work) up until the age of 12.  

As you can see, what is laid out by Steiner has been adapted into traditions by Waldorf Schools around the world, but these are the basic  indications that Steiner gave for what is to be taught in what grade and age.

More to come!


2 thoughts on “Discussions With Teachers- Discussion One

  1. I wonder if maybe you have a typo. I see both phlegmatic and melancholic s are paired with sanguine as opposite.

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