Rudolf Steiner Resources

The Mystery of the Human Temperaments

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by Rudolf Steiner

A Lecture given by Rudolf Steiner
Karlsruhe, 19th January, 1909
GA Unknown

This is the 2nd of 4 lectures given by Rudolf Steiner at various cities, in the Winters of 1909 and 1912. A title these lectures were published under is: Anthroposophy in Everyday Life. The translator is Frances E. Dawson, and the GA # is unknown.

This is an authorised English translation, printed in agreement with Harry Collison, M.A. (Oxon.). It is presented here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

Copyright © 1944
This e.Text edition is provided with the cooperation of: Steiner Books and The Rudolf Steiner Press

The Mystery of the Human Temperaments*

By RUDOLF STEINER

“When it is a case of mastering life, we must listen for
life's secrets, and these lie behind the sense-perceptible.”

*A public lecture given in the winter of 1908-09.

IT is an oft-repeated and a justifiable opinion, with regard to all the realms of human spiritual life, that man's greatest riddle here in our physical life is man himself. And we may truly say that a large part of our scientific activity, of our reflection, and of much besides in man's life of thought, is applied to the solving of this human riddle, to discerning a little wherein the essence of human nature consists. Natural science and spiritual science try to solve from different sides this great riddle comprised in the word Man. In the main, all the more profound natural scientific research seeks to attain its final goal by bringing together all the processes of nature, and so forth, in order to comprehend the external laws. And all spiritual science seeks the sources of existence for the sake of comprehending, of fathoming, man's being and destiny. If then, on the one hand, it is unquestioned that in general man's greatest riddle is man himself, we may say that in relation to life this expression may have a still deeper significance, in that it is necessary on the other hand to emphasize what each of us feels upon meeting another person: namely, that fundamentally each single person is in turn an enigma for others and for himself because of his special nature and being. Ordinarily, when we speak of this human enigma, we have in mind man in general, man without distinction regarding this or that individuality; and certainly many problems appear for us when we wish to understand human nature in general. But today we have not to do with the general riddles of existence, but rather with that enigma, not less significant for life, which each person we meet presents to us. For how endlessly varied are human beings in their deepest individual essence!

When we survey human life we shall have to be especially attentive to this riddle which each person presents, for our entire social life, our relation of man to man, must depend more upon how in individual cases we are able to approach with our feeling, with our sensibility, rather than merely with our intelligence, that individual human enigma which stands before us so often each day, with which we have to deal so often. How difficult it is regarding the people we meet to come to a clear knowledge of the various sides of their nature, and how much depends in life upon our coming to such clear knowledge regarding those people with whom we come in touch. We can of course only approach quite gradually the solution of the whole riddle of the human individual, of which each person presents a special phase, for there is a great gap between what is called human nature in general and that which confronts us in each human individual.

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Spiritual Science and Pedagogy

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Presented in Basel, NOVEMBER 27, 1919 A Lecture for Public School Teachers

I consider it a particular honor to be able to speak to you about the relationship of my work in spiritual science to your pedagogical work. You will allow me to make two introductory remarks. The first is that I will, of course, need to clothe my thoughts in apparently theoretical words and ideas, since to discuss points of view, we need words. However, I expressly note that I do not speak theoretically. I would not even speak about today's topic if I did not direct a portion of my activity toward the practical, particularly concerning educational methods and their effectiveness. Thus, what I wish to bring to you today comes directly from practice.

The second thing I would like to say is that at present spiritual science is extremely controversial. I therefore can quite understand (especially because I represent spiritual science) that there may be many objections today because its methods are, in many cases, foreign to modern points of view. Perhaps we can help make spiritual science more understandable through the way we introduce it and attempt to make it a true living force in such an important practical area as education.

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Main Lesson Block Teaching in the Waldorf School

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References to Main Lesson Blocks appearing in the lectures of Rudolf Steiner
Note that the books listed in this article are available in eBook format in the Books section of this website

When Rudolf Steiner inaugurated the first Waldorf school, he established the “main lesson”—a two-hour class during which all academic subjects except for foreign languages would be taught. The subjects taught in the main lesson were studied for block of time lasting from three to six or more weeks.

Teaching in main lesson blocks has become one of the most successful and distinguishing features of Waldorf education, for it allows teachers to cover the curriculum intensively and economically, and it provides the students with the fullest possible immersion in a subject. The students’ experience of the subject is further deepened by allowing the subject to “go to sleep,” before being “reawakened” later in the year or in the following year. Through this process of forgetting and remembering, students return to a subject with new interest and new insights. The time between the main lesson blocks in a subject allows students’ concepts to develop gradually and to mature. Knowledge needs time to take root, blossom, and bear fruit. The main lesson block assures that students have sufficient time to experience a living process of learning.

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How to Create, Tell and Recall a Story

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Let me give you an example of something which can sink into the child’s soul so that it grows with his growth, something which one can come back to in later years and make use of to arouse certain feelings within him. Nothing is more useful and fruitful in teaching than to give the children something in picture form between the seventh and eighth years, and later, perhaps in the fourteenth and fifteenth years, come back to again in some way or other. Just for this reason we try to let the children in the Waldorf school remain as long as possible with one teacher. When they come to school at seven years of age, the children are given over to a teacher who then takes his class up the school as far as he can, for it is good that things which at one time were given to the child in germ can again and again furnish the content of the methods employed in his education.

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Education Seen as a Problem Involving the Training of Teachers

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From our last lectures you will have seen that the problem of education is the most important of all the questions that now occupy our minds. We have already emphasized that the whole social problem contains as its chief factor the problem of education. A week ago I gave you certain indications for the changes which are needed in the whole system of education so that you will easily understand that the most important sub-question in this problem is that of the training of teachers themselves.
If you study the character of the epoch which began in the middle of the fifteenth century, you will gain the impression that throughout that time a wave of materialistic probations swept through the whole evolution of humanity, and in the present time we must realize that it is necessary to work our way out of this materialistic wave and to find our way back to the spirit. The spiritual path was known to humanity in past epochs of culture, but in those olden times men trod this path more or less instinctively and unconsciously, and they lost it in order that they might re-discover it through their own impulse, out of their own freedom. The path leading to the spirit must now be sought consciously, in full consciousness.

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