Explaining the Waldorf Curriculum, Kindergarten through 8th Grade by Dr Rick Tan
Sedimentary rocks settle back to their bins inside the science closet. The chalkboard compass acutely rests deep in my desk. My sword leans against a wall like a seasoned knight retired from his last battle. From studying rocks to Rome, knights to starry nights, my year with the sixth grade comes to a close. Here at the end of this amazing year, my first year at Davis Waldorf with my students, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some thoughts about the development of the child, and how it determines the charge of the Waldorf teacher.
The wishes of the soul are springing.
I feel my destiny,
My destiny finds me.
The deeds of the will are thriving.
I feel my star,
My star finds me.
The fruits of life are maturing.
I feel my goals in life,
My goals in life are finding me.
Life grows more radiant.
Life grows more challenging.
Life grows more abundant within me.
The eighth grader, at about the age of fourteen, is then held in a different manner. It is not so much holding as if in cupped, protective hands, but rather open and challenging, like you are asking, “So what do you think you should do?”
After fourteen, the child, or the young adult, is developmentally prepared for independent judgment. It is scary to think that we are empowering our teenagers with making their own decisions! But perhaps, it would not be so scary if truly we as caregivers, teachers and parents, were fully present in creating nurturing environments, and leading with responsibility and role modeling. Then, we should be able to trust that their decisions will be made from a place of our own making.
The charge of the Waldorf teacher, in the context of the threefold nature of the human being (body, soul, and spirit), is to transform the children’s natural desire for learning into treasures of creative and intellectual capacities. As the child develops, the needs evolve. The parent or teacher must recognize these shifts and find the rhythm of the growing child.
My own fourteen-year-old graduates this year from Davis Waldorf. He has decided to pursue his ninth grade at a nearby public school in Davis. The school offers a fantastic music program, and my son auditioned as a clarinetist for the concert band and as a saxophonist for jazz band. I had driven him to the school and I waited in the hallway as the music teacher lead him into one of the practice rooms. A faint but confident melody penetrated through the adjacent wall. Only a few measures later, the music teacher emerged from the room and told me that my son had earned positions in both bands. It struck me with full force for the first time that my first born child had just carved his own path, paved the way for his own fate.
My role as a guide for him had reached its apex. From here on, like a waning moon, I glimmer only as a celestial navigator, and I let my son’s own luminous self become the star. I thought about the instruments that we always had around at home when he was a toddler. I thought about the times I would play songs on the piano or when my wife would teach him how to hold a clarinet. We had given him the physical environment and the guidance to appreciate music.
Now he is making his own music.
Thank you Rick. Oh my… what lucky children we have to be held in such a way. It is the creativity and heart that you, and many teachers like you, bring from your own soul to mix with that of each and every child you have the honor of teaching… this is a miracle to me. Thank you, deeply.
Dear Readers, please visit Ricks amazing blog The Waldorf Way and his family-owned shop, Syrendell.
Blessings and magic to you!