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Steiner the private tutor

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  • Daniel Hindes
    Prompted by my discussion with Diana I have collected a number of quotes by Steiner concerning his activities as a private tutor. These demonstrate his
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 27, 2004
      Prompted by my discussion with Diana I have collected a number of quotes by
      Steiner concerning his activities as a private tutor. These demonstrate his
      extensive practical experience in pedagogy with pupils of all ages (from
      early elementry to post-graduate) and all levels of skill.

      >From "The Course of My Life" by Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 2:

      >From my fifteenth year on I taught other pupils of the same grade as myself
      or of a lower grade. The teachers were very willing to assign me this
      tutoring, for I was rated as a very "good scholar." Through this means I was
      enabled to contribute at least a very little toward what my parents had to
      spend out of their meagre income for my education. I owe much to this
      tutoring. In having to give to others in turn the matter which I had been
      taught, I myself became, so to speak, awake to this. For I cannot express
      the thing otherwise than by saying that I received in a sort of dream life
      the knowledge imparted to me by the school. I was always awake to what I
      gained by my own effort, and what I received from a spiritual benefactor,
      such as the doctor I have mentioned of Wiener-Neustadt. What I received thus
      in a fully self-conscious state of mind was noticeably different from what
      passed over to me like dream-pictures in the class-room instruction. The
      development of what had thus been received in a half-waking state was now
      brought about by the fact that in the periods of tutoring I had to vitalize
      my own knowledge.

      On the other hand, this experience compelled me at an early age to concern
      myself with practical pedagogy. I learned the difficulties of the
      development of human minds through my pupils.

      To the pupils of my own grade whom I tutored the most important thing I had
      to teach was German composition. Since I myself had also to write every such
      composition, I had to discover for each theme assigned to us various forms
      of development. I often felt then that I was in a very difficult situation.
      I wrote my own theme only after I had already given away the best thoughts
      on that topic.
      >From "The Course of My Life" by Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 2:

      His teaching gave me much to do. For he covered in the fifth class the Greek
      and Latin poets, from whom selections were used in German translation. Then
      for the first time I began to regret once in a while that my father had put
      me in the Realschule instead of the Gymnasium. For I felt how little of the
      character of Greek and Roman art I should get hold of through the
      translations. So I bought Greek and Latin text-books, and carried along
      secretly by the side of the Realschule course also a private Gymnasium
      course of instruction. This required much time; but it also laid the
      foundation by means of which I met, although in unusual fashion yet quite
      according to the rules, the Gymnasium requirements. I had to give many hours
      of tutoring, especially when I was in the Technische Hochschule(4) in
      Vienna. I soon had a Gymnasium pupil to tutor. Circumstances of which I
      shall speak later brought it about that I had to help this pupil by means of
      tutoring through almost the whole Gymnasium course. I taught him Latin and
      Greek, so that in teaching him I had to go through every detail of the
      Gymnasium course with him.

      This quote shows not only that Steiner derived money from tutoring, but also
      that he was familiar with scientific method and laboratory work, and
      conducted experiments:

      >From "The Course of My Life" by Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 4:

      "In the views at which I had arrived in the physics of optics there seemed
      to me to be a bridge between what is revealed to insight into the spiritual
      world and that which comes out of researches in the natural sciences. I felt
      then a need to prove to sense experience, by means of certain experiments in
      optics in a form of my own, the thoughts which I had formed concerning the
      nature of light and that of colour.

      It was not easy for me to buy the things needed for such experiments; for
      the means of living I derived from tutoring was little enough. Whatever was
      in any way possible for me I did in order to arrive at such plans of
      experimentation in the theory of light as would lead to an unprejudiced
      insight into the facts of nature in this field.

      With the physicist's usual arrangements for experiments I was familiar
      through my work in Reitlinger's physics laboratory. The mathematical
      treatment of optics was easy to me, for I had already pursued thorough
      courses in this field. In spite of all objections raised by the physicists
      against Goethe's theory of colour, I was driven by my own experiments
      farther and farther away from the customary attitude of the physicist toward
      Goethe. I became aware that all such experimentation is only the
      establishing of certain facts "about light" - to use an expression of
      Goethe's - and not experimentation with light itself. I said to myself: "The
      colours are not, in Newton's way of thinking, produced out of light; they
      come to manifestation when obstructions hinder the free unfolding of the
      light." It seemed to me that this was the lesson to be learned directly from
      my experiments. Through this, however, light was for me removed from the
      properly physical realities. It took its place as a midway stage between the
      realities perceptible to the senses and those visible to the spirit.

      >From "The Course of My Life" by Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 4:

      Now, by reason of an inner necessity, I had to strive to work in detail
      through all of Goethe's scientific writings. At first I did not think of
      undertaking an interpretation of these writings, such as I soon afterward
      published in an introduction to them in K├╝rschner's Deutsche National
      Literatur. I thought much more of setting forth independently some field or
      other of natural science in the way in which this science now hovered before
      me as "spiritual." My external life was at that time not so ordered that I
      could accomplish this. I had to do tutoring in the most diverse subjects.
      The "pedagogical" situations through which I had to find my way were complex
      enough. For example, there appeared in Vienna a Prussian officer who for
      some reason or other had been forced to leave the German military service.
      He wished to prepare himself to enter the Austrian army as an officer of
      engineers. Through a peculiar course of fate I became his teacher in
      mathematics and physical-scientific subjects. I found in this teaching the
      deepest satisfaction; for my "scholar" was an extraordinarily lovable man
      who formed a human relationship with me when we had put behind us the
      mathematical and scientific developments he needed for his preparation. In
      other cases also, as in those of students who had completed their work and
      who were preparing for doctoral examinations, I had to give the instruction,
      especially in mathematics and the physical sciences.


      >From "The Course of My Life" by Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 4:

      My activity as a tutor, which afforded me at that time the sole means of a
      livelihood, preserved me from one-sidedness. I had to learn many things from
      the foundation up in order to be able to teach them. Thus I found my way
      into the "mysteries" of book-keeping, for I found opportunity to give
      instruction even in this subject.
      >From "The Course of My Life" by Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 6:

      IN the field of pedagogy Fate gave me an unusual task. I was employed as
      tutor in a family where there were four boys. To three I had to give only
      the preparatory instruction for the Volkschule(1) and then assistance in the
      work of the Mittelschule. The fourth, who was almost ten years old, was at
      first entrusted to me for all his education. He was the child of sorrow to
      his parents, especially to his mother. When I went to live in the home, he
      had scarcely learned the most rudimentary elements of reading, writing, and
      arithmetic. He was considered so subnormal in his physical and mental
      development that the family had doubts as to his capacity for being
      educated. His thinking was slow and dull. Even the slightest mental exertion
      caused a headache, lowering of vital functions, pallor, and alarming mental
      symptoms. After I had come to know the child, I formed the opinion that the
      sort of education required by such a bodily and mental organism must be one
      that would awaken the sleeping faculties, and I proposed to the parents that
      they should leave the child's training to me. The mother had enough
      confidence to accept this proposal, and I was thus able to set myself this
      unusual educational task.

      I had to find access to a soul which was, as it were, in a sleeping state,
      and which must gradually be enabled to gain the mastery over the bodily
      manifestations. In a certain sense one had first to draw the soul within the
      body. I was thoroughly convinced that the boy really had great mental
      capacities, though they were then buried. This made my task a profoundly
      satisfying one. I was soon able to bring the child into a loving dependence
      upon me. This condition caused the mere intercourse between us to awaken his
      sleeping faculties of soul. For his instruction I had to feel my way to
      special methods. Every fifteen minutes beyond a certain time allotted to
      instruction caused injury to his health. To many subjects of instruction the
      boy had great difficulty in relating himself.

      This educational task became to me the source from which I myself learned
      very much. Through the method of instruction which I had to apply there was
      laid open to my view the association between the spiritual-mental and the
      bodily in man. Then I went through my real course of study in physiology and
      psychology. I became aware that teaching and instructing must become an art
      having its foundation in a genuine understanding of man. I had to follow out
      with great care an economic principle. I frequently had to spend two hours
      in preparing for half an hour of instruction in order to get the material
      for instruction in such a form that in the least time, and with the least
      strain upon the mental and physical powers of the child, I might reach his
      highest capacity for achievement. The order of the subjects of instruction
      had to be carefully considered; the division of the entire day into periods
      had to be properly determined. I had the satisfaction of seeing the child in
      the course of two years accomplish the work of the Volkschule, and
      successfully pass the examination for entrance to the Gymnasium (2).
      Moreover, his physical condition had materially improved. The hydrocephalic
      condition was markedly diminishing. I was able to advise the parents to send
      the child to a public school. It seemed to me necessary that he should find
      his vital development in company with other children. I continued to be a
      tutor for several years in the family, and gave special attention to this
      boy, who was always guided to make his way through the school in such a way
      that his home activities should be carried through in the spirit in which
      they were begun. I then had the inducement, in the way I have already
      mentioned, to increase my knowledge of Latin and Greek, for I was
      responsible for the tutoring of this boy and another in this family for the
      Gymnasium lessons.

      I must needs feel grateful to Fate for having brought me into such a life
      relationship. For through this means I developed in vital fashion a
      knowledge of the being of man which I do not believe could have been
      developed by me so vitally in any other way. Moreover, I was taken into the
      family in an extraordinarily affectionate way; we came to live a beautiful
      life in common. The father of these boys was a sales-agent for Indian and
      American cotton. I was thus able to get a glimpse of the working of
      business, and of much that is connected with this. Moreover, through this I
      learned a great deal. I had an inside view of the conduct of a branch of an
      unusually interesting import business, and could observe the intercourse
      between business friends and the interlinking of many commercial and
      industrial activities.

      My young charge was successfully guided through the Gymnasium; I continued
      with him even to the Unter-Prima(3). By that time he had made such progress
      that he no longer needed me. After completing the Gymnasium he entered the
      school of medicine, became a physician, and in this capacity he was later a
      victim of the World War. The mother, who had become a true friend of mine
      because of what I had done for her boy, and who clung to this child of
      sorrow with the most devoted love, soon followed him in death. The father
      had already gone from this world.

      A good portion of my youthful life was bound up with the task which had
      grown so close to me. For a number of years I went during the summer with
      the family of the children whom I had to tutor to the Attersee in the
      Salzkammergut, and there became familiar with the noble Alpine nature of
      Upper Austria. I was gradually able to eliminate the private lessons I had
      continued to give to others even after beginning this tutoring, and thus I
      had time left for prosecuting my own studies.


      >From "The Course of My Life" by Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 13:

      When I was fourteen years old I had to begin tutoring; for fifteen years, up
      to the beginning of the second phase of my life, that spent at Weimar, my
      destiny kept me engaged in this work. The unfolding of the minds of many
      persons, both in childhood and in youth, was in this way bound up with my
      own evolution. Through this means I was able to observe how different were
      the ways in which the two sexes grow into life. For, along with the giving
      of instruction to boys and young men, it fell to my lot to teach also a
      number of young girls. Indeed, for a long time the mother of the boy whose
      instruction I had taken over because of his pathological condition was a
      pupil of mine in geometry; and at another time I taught this lady and her
      sister aesthetics.

      In the family of these children I found for a number of years a sort of
      home, from which I went out to other families as tutor or instructor.
      Through the intimate friendship between the mother of the children and
      myself, it came about that I shared fully in the joys and sorrows of this
      family. In this woman I perceived a uniquely beautiful human soul. She was
      wholly devoted to the development of her four boys according to their
      destiny. In her one could study mother love in its larger manifestation. To
      co-operate with her in problems of education formed a beautiful content of
      life. For the musical part of the artistic she possessed both talent and
      enthusiasm. At times she took charge of the musical practice of her boys, as
      long as they were still young. She discussed intelligently with me the most
      varied life problems, sharing in everything with the deepest interest. She
      gave the greatest attention to my scientific and other tasks. There was a
      time when I had the greatest need to discuss with her everything which
      intimately concerned me. When I spoke of my spiritual experiences, she
      listened in a peculiar way. To her intelligence the thing was entirely
      congenial, but it maintained a certain marked reserve; yet her mind absorbed
      everything. At the same time she maintained in reference to man's being a
      certain naturalistic view. She believed the moral temper to be entirely
      bound up with the health or sickness of the bodily constitution. I mean to
      say that she thought instinctively about man in a medical fashion, whereby
      her thinking tended to be somewhat naturalistic. To discuss things in this
      way with her was in the highest degree stimulating. Besides, her attitude
      toward all outer life was that of a woman who attended with the strongest
      sense of duty to everything which fell to her lot, but who looked upon most
      inner things as not belonging to her sphere. She looked upon her fate in
      many aspects as something burdensome. But still she made no claims upon
      life; she accepted this as it took form so far as it did not concern her son
      s. In relation to these she felt every experience with the deepest emotion
      of her soul.

      There are more references in a number of Steiner's lectures, but I don't
      have the time to collect them now.

      Daniel Hindes
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