Waldorf education is transdisciplinary by its very nature…
Rhythm is a foundation of the Waldorf curriculum for younger students. When considering the school day – for all ages of children – the whole child is considered. At the beginning of the school day, middle school student delve into a one-and-a-half hour, academic lesson, or “main lesson”. Main lesson is a longer class period that includes thematic units in a project-based meaningful experience. These academic topics are woven together literacy and math as well as social studies or science. The core curriculum includes language arts, mythology, history, geography, geology, algebra, geometry, mineralogy, biology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and nutrition.
With a well-rounded curriculum that includes a variety of subject classes throughout each day children are learning through many different modes of learning styles. Main lesson typically begins with introductory activities that may include singing, instrumental music, and poetry. In order that students can connect more deeply with the subject matter, academic instruction includes artistic work that includes story-telling, visual arts, drama, movement, vocal and instrumental music, and crafts.
For the first part of the school day, middle schoolers engage in “main lesson”. In Main lesson, academics are woven together to create well-rounded experiences for the students. Here are some examples of how the 7th grade main lesson projects are timed to be meaningful for the adolescent:
The middle school child is beginning to experience physiological changes and new intellectual capacities. During a time when they are becoming more aware of their bodies, middle schoolers in main lesson, work on the biology of the human body. Once this science unit is completed, the students move on to study the Renaissance Period. Through the artist’s eye, they also begin to see the beauty of the human form. The Renaissance was a flourishing period of exploration and enlightenment: a rebirth of human thought with a rush of bold ideas from artists, scientists and philosophers. In many ways, this time mirrors the inner experience of the adolescent! Middle school children are developing unique perspectives of the world, seeing with new clarity and a critical eye. Supporting their study of the Renaissance, in an artistic study, students learn order and structure starting in geometry and then employed as the laws of perspective in drawings and paintings. Students, in creative writing, explore points of view and “voice” as they compose writings from differing characters’ perspectives. The seventh grade is a time of impressive change. The rich Waldorf main lesson curriculum engages children as they grow and mature.
Handwork & Math
Students create a three dimensional, hand sewn animal from a two dimensional drawing, capturing the gesture of an animal. Students must conceptualize each surface of the animal and draft the pattern pieces, using circumference and diameter math concepts.
Life Arts & Math
Middle school students learn 21st Century Skills in a business math block, including calculating interest from varying principals and rates. Students also consider time as a factor: What will the interest be over multiple years?
History, Science, & Visual Arts
Middle schoolers practice human form drawing as an art and science emphasis integration in a Renaissance thematic unit.
History, Math, & Visual Arts
Middle schoolers create unique perspective drawings as a combined art and math integration inspired by the Renaissance thematic unit.
Science & Visual Arts
Human anatomy is studied by middle school students at an intentional time as they become more aware of their own changing bodies. Integration with art deepens the experience, embedding this knowledge and allowing students to make the work uniquely their own while at the same time knowing they are not alone in this new phase of adolescence.
- Social-Emotional Curriculum
- Technology as a Tool
- Environmental Education
- Current Events
- Community Service
- Enterprise & Fundraising
- Outdoor Education
- Field Trips
- Regional Events
- Community Festivals
Darling-Hammond, L., & Cook-Harvey, C. M. (2018). Educating the whole child: Improving school climate to support student success. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/educating-whole-child-report
Davis, Katie & Christodoulou, Joanna & Seider, Scott & Gardner, Howard. (2011). The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Online resources about Multiple Intelligences at: https://www.multipleintelligencesoasis.org/
Nargi, Lela. (2016). Six Math Concepts Explained by Knitting and Crochet. Retrieved from https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/86016/6-math-concepts-explained-knitting-and-crochet
“Education must begin with the solution of the student-teacher contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students.” —Paulo Freire