The Four Temperaments

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A predominantly sanguine child needs to experience love for his teacher and this love will help him towards greater constancy.

The choleric child may not find it so easy to love his teacher, but he should be helped to feel respect and esteem for his authority in quite an objective way.  He should have the feeling that the teacher really knows what he is talking about.

The steadiness of the phlegmatic should not lead to his becoming isolated, but the teacher should encourage this trait to become part of a social activity, such as keeping a part while playing music in a recorder group, or when acting in class plays.  Then the phlegmatic will find his right relationship with his class teacher.

In the melancholic pupil the teacher does well to divert his pupil’s inner brooding towards a widened experience of outward suffering in the world, but on a heightened level.  (History, Geography, and literature offer plenty of scope).

Yet he will only succeed if his melancholic pupil feels that the teacher himself has paid for his wisdom with the requisite amount of his own suffering. 


Self-composed – Not given to worry – Liberal – Tends to follow rather than lead – Cordial Peaceable -Talkative -Not averse to change – Adjusts easily -Tends to prefer informality

Aware of surroundings – Impetuous – Impulsive – Lacking in perseverance

Lacking in initiative -Prone to carelessness, pleasure, flightiness, and lust 


Self-composed – Not given to worry – Persuasive – Independent

Rarely shows embarrassment – Tends to lead rather than follow

Persistent – Insistent – Decisive Dynamic – Impetuous

Impulsive – Touchy – Prone to hypocrisy, deceit, pride, and anger 


Sensitive – Intuitive – Self-conscious – Easily embarrassed -Easily hurt – Introspective Sentimental – Moody – Likes to be alone – Empathetic – Often artistic

Often fussy and perfectionist – Deeply Prone to depression, avarice, and gluttony 


Peaceful –  Easy-going – Deliberative –  Faithful –  Reliable

Relatively unaffected by environment – Reserved – Distant -Slow in movement

Constant in mood – Not prone to worry – Prone to stagnation and sloth

An exaggerated way of understanding the four temperaments is to consider four people who see a meteor fall to earth. The Sanguine talks about it animatedly to all present; the Choleric wants to form an expedition to find it and analyze it; the Melancholic ponders what it means and how he feels about it; and the Phlegmatic waits for the others to decide what to do as whatever decision they make is fine by him. It’s kind of fun to analyze friends — and characters we see in movies, too — in terms of these four temperaments. Consider “The Wizard of Oz” with its Sanguine Cowardly Lion, Choleric Scarecrow, Melancholic Tin Man, and Phlegmatic Dorothy. 

Four Medieval Verses for the Teacher

 Lightly he springs o’er the stone

The sanguine one,

Quick and with grace.

If he trips he cares not,

With a laugh he continues his race.

Grimly the choleric kicks at the stone

Hurling it out of his way.

As he exults in his strength,

See how his eye flashes fire.

Now the phlegmatic appears

And pensively slows down his step:

“If this stone will not move from my path

I must go round it and all will be well.”

Silently stands by the stone,

Brooding, the melancholy one,

Grumbling and plunged in despair

At his eternally lasting doom.

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