Class Eight is the culmination year of all the children have learnt and achieved during their Primary Education. This is the year they are consciously drawn to see the connections between all the subjects they have learnt since the early Main Lessons in Class Two. This integration and sense of accomplishment at how much they have grown needs to be acknowledged and celebrated! This year is the end of their childhood and we want to show them that they are ready to deal with the challenges of life as they step out on their own. This is the time we must help them start taking over the role of being the problem solvers of their own lives in order to gain greater independence and learn how to handle responsibility.
There are great changes occurring inside the adolescent child as they deal with their growing intellectual faculties and deeper capacities for logical thinking. At the same time they are emotionally waking up to a desire to individualize and explore who they are as people. During these changes we expect to see: changes in sleep habits, changes in eating habits, greater defiance and a need to assert themselves more on their appearance. They will want piercings, radically different hairstyles, tattoos and seem to change personalities overnight. They start to push away everything that connects them to their childhood as their eyes are now focused more on the adult they are becoming. They go through deep and intense moods and feel true despair and sadness. They are critical and judgemental of everything brought to them by the adults in their lives. They want to be Anything they can be as long as it’s not like their parents.
All of these behaviours are necessary and show that the children are working on developing THEIR personality, identity and individuality. The highs and lows show us that they are waking up in themselves and that is a crucial step in their journey to becoming young adults.
Through these turbulent times they need the adults around them to be Balanced through the storms they find themselves in. If we can hold them, they trust they are loved, cared for and supported as they work to solve their challenges. They know that the boundaries around them are strong and will hold them. They see that greater responsibility brings greater freedom.
It can be a very challenging time for parents and educators to work against the defiance and moodiness of teenagers. It is vital that we stay strong and maintain a higher perspective during disagreements. We can use humor to manage and diffuse situations creatively in order to stay calm. If we are calm we can discipline with thought and not simply react to the Teenage Storm.
Class Eight is the final year with the Class Teacher of the primary and this reflects that after this year; the children will be ready for the totally different education style of the Secondary School.
The Waldorf Curriculum is designed to bring content which will help balance the children of this age, stimulate their growing intellect and help them explore themselves in relation to the world as members of the world community. They are now capable of understanding the world in greater technical and scientific detail. They also now have faculties to produce work of a very high standard and the expectation is set high in this regard.
CLASS 8 SUBJECTS
LANGUAGE ARTS: The way we strengthen Language Arts this year is by guiding children in their individual writing. This year there is a massive emphasis on having children write their own notes and design their Main Lesson books as they now put their individual stamps on the work. This writing must be up to a high standard.
To this end, Grammar studies continue as we delve into more technical aspects of the English language. Topics include: subordinate/independent clauses; the proper use of pronouns; infinitives, gerunds and participles. We focus on correct use of tenses, syntax, congruency, sentence structure and spelling. We continue with studies of punctuation, writing compositions, organizing work into paragraphs, formulating ideas and clearer expression through writing. We look deeper into poetry and learn how to analyze poems and word pictures made. Children are guided to express themselves using the various techniques presented. Grammar will be taught in weekly English Practice lessons and Language Arts integrated in every Main Lesson.
As a true lover of the English Language I am going to work very hard to keep teenage slang, one word answers and overly casual speech out of my classroom. I am going to protect our class as a space where proper English is spoken in an attempt to elevate their language and skills.
MATH: The main goal in math is to grow Math: Confidence, Competence, Speed and Persistence in the children. There will be a thorough review done of arithmetic, fractions, decimals, percentages and Business Math. They will be presented with numerous word sums to strengthen mathematical thinking. Math will be studied in weekly Math Practice lessons. There are 2 Math Blocks this year:
Review basic concepts and laws of equations, signed numbers and exponents. New concepts include: working with polynomials, factorizing, quadratic equations, working with different number bases, word problems, working with formulae and how to work out compound interest.
This year we review working with triangles, angles, parallel lines, constructions of various shapes and study theorems and proofs as things get more technical.
We will also study Geometry in Art and Nature through exploration of the Spiral and the Golden Proportion. This will grow the children’s understanding of the geometrical principles that underlie natural forms and have been used by artists throughout History! We will discover the Fibonacci Series of numbers. An important part of Geometry is working to create the Platonic Solids and constructing these 3D shapes in various ways. This will be explored during the year during Art Classes.
“A basic tenet underlying the teaching of History in the Waldorf Curriculum is that the period studied should serve as an “objective correlative” to the developmental changes occurring in the body and soul of the student.”
For this reason we will have two History Main Lesson blocks: The Reformation and The Industrial Revolution. These periods of history reflect what is going on in the inner lives of children of this age. It is a very enriching experience for them to explore the complexity of the issues raised and the intensity of the lives of those who made History. This speaks deeply to their new ways of looking at the world and understanding the connections which exist. Both of these periods bore the seeds of much of what has driven human and technological development.
- The Reformation
We will study the growth of Christian Humanism and the biographies of people such as Martin Luther and Thomas Moore. We will look at how human thinking began to change as seen in Galileo and Kepler. We will explore the change in the role of the Catholic Church as well as its responses to Reformation. We will see how the invention of the Printing Press influenced the speed with which information was spread throughout Europe and the consequences of this.
- The Industrial Revolution
We will learn about the factors which led to the Industrial Revolution, the importance of natural resources and why it started specifically in England. We will explore the invention and impact of the Steam Engine across all spheres of life. We will look at how the development of factories totally changed the concept of work and the impacts this had on family life. With the emergence of differing roles in society (with growing importance of bankers and investors) we see the seeds of modern materialism with the possibilities of growing personal wealth. We also see the working conditions of employees at that time and the need for laws to protect workers.
PHYSICS: Children will be shown demonstrations connected to hydraulics and aerodynamics as we learn the Scientific properties of and the nature of Air and Water. Concepts include: review of the states of matter, adhesion/cohesion of water, solubility, physical characteristics of water and convection. We further our studies of acids as we see how to create electricity using acids and metals. We will also review formulae for working out the force of levers and pulleys.
CHEMISTRY: Through lab demonstrations and class discussions we will study the role of carbohydrates (sugars and starch), oils, fats and proteins in nature and human nourishment. We will learn the basic characteristics of each of these. We will discover how these react with water, fire and air. We will learn how to test for and identify these substances in a lab. We will consider food processing and its effects on the body.
The Sciences revolve around developing a clearer understanding of Water, Fire and Air as scientific concepts, not merely elements we see around us. Great work is done to show children Science in the body in order to grow the feeling that Science is the Subject of understanding Life.
HUMAN ANATOMY: At this age children go through a period of intense growth and the hardening of their long bones. This is why we introduce the Skeletal System to reveal to them the complexity and ingenuity of the Skeleton as the frame which supports us. It is studied as an example of form and function United in an amazing way. We will study: the skeletal system, muscular system and how our bones, muscles, tendons and joints work in harmony. We will look for the 6 Simple Machines (studied in Class Seven) in the body as we find the Science which lives inside us. This block ends with a deeper look into the workings of the Eye and the Ear.
WORLD GEOGRAPHY: During this Main Lesson we will look at how the actual layout of maps has influenced our perceptions over the years. Geography is a subject which looks at how natural resources and the structure of countries has affected their development and culture. It is where we consider globalization and look at how important an understanding of economics is in order to see the connections which exist between countries. Our focus is on the continent of Asia as we study the histories of China and Russia through their territories, history, culture, governance and ways of life. We will conclude this block with a brief look into current events as they see that Geography is an important part of our everyday lives.
METEOROLOGY: In this Main Lesson we grow our understanding of phenomena in our world. We will learn the classification of clouds and the development of scientific instruments with which we could record and measure and measure data e.g. barometer. We will look at the role of water and air and the effects of these on the climate of a region. We will study cooling and heating trends in the Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere. The study of major storms e.g. tornadoes reflects the storms raging inside the teenager and provides powerful imagery for them. An important theme is to see how human thinking changed and the great technological changes which occurred. The biography of Francis Bacon is explored as he is regarded as the father of Inductive Reasoning. Other biographies include Copernicus and Kepler as figures who changed History.
CLASS EIGHT MILESTONES:
As Class Eight is the culmination of the Primary School years it is important that we acknowledge and celebrate their achievements. We want to send them off into their High School years showing them that they have learnt a great deal and are now ready to go out and find their way in the world.
The Class Eight Trip: Various schools approach this differently but all Class Eight children go off out into the world with their Teacher and trusted adults. No parents may go on this trip. As a class we have never had a camp or stayed out of home so this is a crucial experience we need to give them this year. For me, the trip is about giving the children an experience of life from a totally different perspective, giving them the opportunity to work together as a team to accomplish something they can be proud of, giving them the chance to make a positive impact in the world, growing enthusiasm for their surroundings and the chance to separate from their parents.
Class Eight Play: This is to be a theatrical production with roles, costumes, stage design etc. In a sense it is their farewell gift to the school. There are huge demands placed on them and it is worth it as it is an opportunity for the children to show how far they have come and what they are capable of.
Class Eight Graduation: A formal ceremony where the school community is invited to celebrate the achievements of the children. Children prepare a presentation to showcase themselves in a way of their choosing. It could be through Art, dance, the construction of something or a new skill learned. Children will be working on this project throughout the year. They also will prepare a speech to deliver. This is their official send off from the Primary years.
These three events will require planning and preparation and will be discussed in the first Class Eight Parent Evening and with the children.