A Developing Member in the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
Serving Children From Early Childhood Through Eighth Grade
An 8th grade student’s capacity for logical thinking and independent judgment is now fully awake. They have a greater sense of self as their sense of place in world expands. The students are searching for truth. They stand at doorway to adulthood, experiencing a sense of completion. Students are filled with creative forces during puberty. The teacher must nurture these forces of inner creativity so children become adults able to express themselves to the highest potential. In the classroom, there is an increased sense of community. The presentation shifts from teacher to student. Their speaking becomes more thoughtful, listening becomes more attentive. They leave with compelling questions to fuel love of learning in years ahead.
History: It is vitally important that the students have a clear picture of history to present day before leaving the 8th grade. Therefore, the curriculum for 8th grade starts at the Renaissance and continues to the present day, including the emergence of ideals of human freedom leading to American, French, and Russian revolutions and how those ideals manifested differently in each nation. Students discover that during this time, individuals, such as Charles Darwin, laid the foundation for modern scientific world view. Students hold debates over the differing points of view held by the British and colonists during the American War of Independence. They study the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They discuss moral questions of extreme poverty and wealth and hold conversations about the world of technology, free trade, war and peace. Students may read biographies of such luminaries as Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.
Literature: The literature curriculum includes a range of styles for students to sample: Shakespeare, epic and dramatic poetry, haiku, stories about different peoples of the world, their folklore and poetry, and novels including ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel,’ ‘The Master Puppeteer,’ and ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’
Geography: The geography curriculum covers Asia and Africa and Antarctica. World geography emphasizes contrasts and continues the study of maps and their influence on perception of world. The philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Shintoism may be covered.
English and Grammar: Students review previous grammar work, and add subordinate and independent clauses, use of pronouns with stress of pronouns as subjects, objects, proper use of indefinite pronouns, and the use of verb forms, with a focus on infinitives, participles and gerunds. Students review business and practical writing, spelling and vocabulary. They practice compositions as newspaper articles and editorials, with an emphasis on note taking and journaling and oral presentations using weekly news reporting, and write scenes or short plays. The year culminates in a class play, usually Shakespeare or a musical.
Science: In 8th grade, students picture the human as a microcosm of the kingdoms of nature, and in terms of physical science: how the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and skeletal systems and organs interrelate. The physics curriculum covers hydraulics and pneumatics, electricity and magnetism, aerodynamics, meteorology (understanding of weather). Students discover the mechanical principles that contributed directly to development of modern technological society. In chemistry, laboratory demonstrations and classroom discussions highlight the study of carbohydrates (sugars and starches), oils, fats and proteins in outer nature and in human nourishment. Student analyze organic substances and investigate their role in human nutrition. They also investigate processes by which organic substance are formed (photosynthesis) and are transformed (digestion) and discover how the classic substances of fire, air, earth, and water can be understood and observed in physical processes (various influences that create weather or ocean currents).
Math: The study of algebra continues. Students are introduced to the binary system, which made the development of computers possible. They also move on to principles of solid geometry, constructing the five platonic solids, and studying the spiral, the golden mean, and Euclidean geometry. Finally, the metric system and American system of measurement are compared, particularly the formulae for measuring volume and quadratic equations.
Artistic work: To support the study of solid geometry, students work on exact geometric drawing, solid geometry and 3-dimensional works, theorems, volumes of solids, and lows of loci. They begin to draw in black and white with charcoal, also using bamboo and ink brush for landscape painting and calligraphy. Other handwork includes sewing a piece of clothing, making a stool, carved box, or moveable toy from wood, and sculpting the human head in clay.
Games: Greek wrestling and gymnastics
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