Curriculum, Eighth Grade
The task of elementary education is to give children an understanding of man and the world in which they live, to offer them knowledge so rich and warm as to engage their hearts and wills as well as their minds. Such an understanding is the basis of all real efficiency in later years. With the completion of the eighth grade the children should have a well-rounded general picture of man and universe. This last year should not only bring all previous experiences to a new peak, but enable the children to enter fully and potently into the life of their own time.
History, therefore, is an intensive study of the industrial revolution to the modern day, focusing as well on the outstanding individuals such as Napoleon, Lincoln, Jefferson, Edison, and culminating in American history. Geography takes up the same theme, showing the role played by every part of the earth in modern industrial civilization. A comprehensive picture is given of the relation of mineral resources and plant and animal life to the life of human beings in various regions of the world (world economic geography).
Physics lessons complement these historical and geographical surveys. The practical uses made of man's new knowledge of all the physical sciences are thoroughly explored. In addition to further studies in acoustics, thermodynamics, mechanics, climate, electricity, and magnetism, the children are now introduced to hydraulics, aerodynamics, and meteorology. Chemistry is also considered in relation to industry. Organic chemistry (fats, sugars, proteins, and starches are identified) is studied for the role it plays in the building of organic substance. Mathematics also emphasizes the practical applications of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Demonstrations in plane and solid geometry lead to problems in the measurement of surfaces and volume. The study of graphs is introduced. Man is again the subject of nature study through the study of physiology of the human organism, observed from the standpoint of form and movement.
Literature focuses on the theme of human freedom in the short story, letters, and Shakespearean drama. Painting concerns itself for the first time with highly conscious studies of highlights and shadows in portraits and landscapes. In their foreign languages, the children begin a study of poetry and metric forms. Machine sewing, darning, artistic hand-sewing projects and carpentry devoted to big projects requiring real skill and imagination culminate handwork. Music takes up Elizabethan music, American music, symphonic form; eurythmy complements other studies with exploration of poems with tension and relief and contrasting moods.
(The above description is paraphrased from Teaching as a Lively Art, by Marjorie Spock.)
What I like about the Waldorf school is, quite simply, its graduates. As a high school teacher at Marin Academy, I have seen a number of the students who come from Marin Waldorf, and I can say that in all cases they have been remarkable, bright, energetic and involved. -James Shipman, History Department, Marin Academy, San Rafael, California