“Please remember particularly that when we are dealing with the temperament of a child, as teachers we should not assume that a certain temperament is a fault to be overcome.” – Rudolf Steiner
There is great, very specific wisdom in this lecture about how to teach with the temperaments and more. This lecture fields questions, beginning with how to work with chidlren of the sanguine temperament. Steiner talks about how a teacher explains something to a sanguine child and the “child has taken it in, but after some time you notice that the child has lost interest- attention has turned to something else….What would you do with a child like this?” he asks the original questioner.
Steiner talks about giving the child individual treatment, and to work on the sanguine group by showing them the melancholic response to such things (because the melancholic child most likely will also NOT be thinking of something the teacher just said, but will be thinking about something from very far before and will be stuck ruminating over whatever the past thing was!)
Then Steiner moves on to a question about the phlegmatic child, and how we can work with temperaments via music, and by relating Biblical history from the different Gospels to affect temperament (remember, Steiner’s works on the Gospels provide esoteric insights).
- Phlegmatics: Choral singing, harmony, piano, (The Gospel of Matthew for variety)
- Sanguines: Wind instruments, melody, playing with an entire orchestra (The Gospel of Luke for inwardness of soul)
- Cholerics : Percussion and drum, rhythm, solo instruments (The Gospel of Mark – force and strength)
- Melancholics: Stringed Instruments, counterpoint, solo singing (The Gospel of John -deepening of the spirit)
However, Steiner also goes on to say: “But it wouldn’t be as good to delegate the four arts according to temperaments; it is precisely because art is multifaceted that any single art can bring harmony to each temperament.” So notice Steiner finds four arts, and that he believes a child need not specialize. “In any single art it is possible to allocate the various branches and expressions of the art according to temperament.”
Steiner goes on to take another question about phlegmatics, and how the ideal treatment may be to have the mother wake the child up at least an hour earlier than normal and during this time keep the child busy with all kinds of things. He also talks about while teaching in classroom, the teacher can essentially jar keys or otherwise rouse the phlegmatics as he or she passes by the student’s desk! “You must continually find fresh ways to jolt the phlegmatics…” Other questions answered include the relation of the temperaments to food; the fact that melancholic children get left behind easily and how they are slower to develop and retain impressions and imitate longer than other temperament types. He goes on to say:
“The melancholic lives in a strange condition of self-deception. Melancholics have the opinion that their experiences are peculiar to themselves. The moment you can bring home to them that others also have these or similar experiences, they will to some degree be cured, because they then perceive that they are not the singularly interesting people they thought themselves to be.” So, biography of great people who have gone through struggles are very important for melancholics.
Other points include relating of four body types to the temperaments (there is a diagram), how to deal with a choleric temperament and more. He points out that the human being is always becoming, is always changing and developing. There are also specific temperaments associated with stages of development – childhood is a sanguine time, adolescence is a choleric time, mature life is a melancholic time, and old age is a phlegmatic time. Our creative qualities depend upon the youthful qualities in a human being, our economic life depends upon the qualities of old age (phlegmatics), and Steiner talks about how some people remain adolescents until they die because they preserve this phase of adolescent life within themselves.
Such an interesting discussion! Let me know what you thought!