Pedagogical methods utilized in the Middle School (Grades 6-8) are similar to those used in the Lower School, yet topics are tailored toward the emerging adolescent capable of more abstract thinking. A Middle School Class Teacher is assigned to the incoming Grade 6 class, and while a team teaching approach to learning is adopted, this teacher remains with the class from 6th to 8th grade. Morning Lesson begins at 8:20am and ends at 10:20am three days each week. Two days each week Morning Lesson ends early to allow for two additional periods of math, language arts and social/emotional related classes.
During these years, students become more self-conscious and critical and the teachers offer new boundaries, rules, and expectations as well as a stimulating experiential curriculum. The Middle School rotation and team teaching approach help us to meet the needs of young adolescents.
The Sixth Graders lose some of the physical grace possessed in the fifth grade. Their limbs lengthen while coordination becomes challenging. Boys’ voices begin to change and some girls begin to enter puberty. Students become more self-conscious and critical, and the teachers experience the need to offer new boundaries, rules, and expectations.
As the students start to develop their own individuality, they are presented with the biographies of strong individuals in the Roman history block. From Caesar to Nero, this epoch is rife with historical figures who accomplish great deeds and also experience tragedy and failure. Roman history mirrors the students’ own personal struggles while also inspiring them to take action in their own lives. The laws of Rome become important as students seek order and reason. The fall of Rome gives way to the medieval era and the world of suffering in the feudal system.
Geometric Drawing, Roman History, and Physics are hallmark Main Lessons. In Geometric Drawing, precision is of the utmost importance and emphasized through the correct use of a compass. The student is able to see that exact and correct use of a tool gives rise to a precise geometric form that is also artistic. Their turbulent emotions and impulses can be channeled into these exact, beautiful forms.
The students study Geology, Astronomy and Physics in the sixth grade. Physics opens a new faculty of thinking and introduces the laws of cause and effect. Physics broadens their capacity of observation through careful documentation of what they have observed and expository writing.
Other Main Lesson Blocks are: Business Math, Geography, of either Europe or South America, and Drama, based on subject matter derived from either Roman or Medieval History. The Geography lessons emphasize the interconnectedness of the world. If there are students in the class from the cultures that are being studied, we invite these students to share their culture.
The Medieval Games compliment the study of Medieval History. This daylong event brings students together with other Waldorf 6th graders in the region for games of skill, and cooperation, in an off-campus medieval village setting. They engage the will through joyful movement in a socially supportive environment.
The students continue to have a variety of Subject Teachers. German, Spanish, Choral Singing, Instrumental Music, Handwork, Woodwork, Eurythmy, and Physical Education all work with developmental themes as described above.
Puberty is in full swing as the seventh graders’ limbs lengthen, movements become awkward, and interest in sexuality emerges. Physical Education presents exercises and games emphasizing precise movements that help the students adjust to their changing bodies. The Physiology Main Lesson further expands the seventh graders’ understanding of their changing bodies by emphasizing the reproductive system and nutrition. The Seventh Graders experience a fair amount of inner turmoil, and their social interactions may become intense and dramatic. Language Arts, Drama, and Creative Writing are tools for expressing the breadth of human emotion, whereby students learn to bring feeling into conscious expression.
Their attitude towards authority changes as their individuality emerges. The teacher works with the students’ developing capacities for independent critical thinking while also imbuing them with a sense of personal responsibility. Biographies of Renaissance artists, explorers, and inventors who present a picture of an individual living up to his potential and highest ideals are studied. The Social Studies lessons focus on the Renaissance and Reformation, and students must use research and writing skills to give written and oral presentations on the historical figures and periods studied.
Seventh Graders become increasingly interested in their surrounding environment. The study of African Culture and Geography brings awareness to the diversity of human culture and the students learn how to honor others for their individual gifts and talents. Algebra classes exercise the Seventh Graders’ faculty of abstract thought. Chemistry and Physics continue to employ the scientific method and further train the students in rigorous observation and the drawing of accurate conclusions.
The students continue to learn German, Spanish, Art, Handwork, Woodwork, Eurhythmy, P.E., Chorus, and Instrumental Music.
While the girls are more involved in sharing and discussing feelings and social dynamics, many boys appear uncommunicative and unwilling to engage emotionally. The students are beginning to search for new role models and authority figures as they look out into the world and become more discerning. Ideas of morality are explored, giving rise to a burgeoning idealism. Through discussions, writing assignments, and oral presentations, the students are taught to express their newfound individuality and bring thought into action.
The American History Main Lesson is a hallmark of the eighth grade, and the first theme is that of “revolution.” We study the roots of the American Revolution, with spirited discussions about the nature of freedom and the ideals of the Founding Fathers. The students learn how their idealism created a nation, and that the individual possess power to enact change.
The Chemistry Main Lesson examines the processes that lie behind the formation of everyday products through the study of Organic Chemistry. Asian Geography immerses the students in diverse eastern cultures and exposes them to the music, food, crafts, clothing, and daily life of these cultures.
Subject Teachers continue to lead students into greater depth in all subject areas. The Eighth Graders continue learning Instrumental and Choral Music, Eurythmy, Spanish, German, Handwork, Woodwork, and P.E.
A Class Trip, at the end of the school year may brings students to a major urban cultural setting, such as Washington D.C., or takes them on an Outdoor Educational trip. This trip marks an important transition in the educational journey. It provides students with a variety of social, emotional, and cultural opportunities to experience themselves and each other in new ways that support the ending of their elementary school years.