Year Groups - High School
By Class Eight the students are well and truly into adolescence with not only constantly changing bodies but also the birth of a new, independent life of feeling. This emotionally turbulent time, although sometimes difficult for parents and teachers to support without themselves feeling swamped by emotion, is an important stage of development for the 14 year old student to journey through. Accompanying this feeling life is a gradual sharpening of their critical faculties, so previously accepted rules or ideas can now begin to be scrutinised. Counter balancing this critical tendency is the emergence of a reasoning side in the child.
Main lessons this year will help the students to work with the world’s laws in order to find their own voice. They will be experiencing how knowledge makes one capable of forming appropriate judgements and how forming judgements leads to new questions. For example, in their History Main Lesson this term Class Eight learnt about the industrial revolution, beginning with a broad understanding of history and building up to researching a topic of their own choice where they began to ask their own questions about how that period in history impacts on their life today.
Other Main Lessons this Semester include Meteorology, the Maths of Rhythm, Human Biology, the Camp and the Play. Ultimately we aim to provide the students with a positive and engaging world picture so that they might find a way to connect with the world and find a meaningful place within it.
The experience of the Class 9 students is characterised by that of extremes; they swing from one intensely felt emotion to another. They think in polarities; the world is black or white. Contrasts interest them and they seek to define and form opinions about the here and now of the modern world. The Steiner curriculum works with this intense polarity in all subjects and in so doing aims to meet their inner experience and sustain their motivation. The objective is to train exact powers of observation and recollection so that the students can experience the steadiness of their own thinking in the often-confusing world around them. They will also experience Biology, Chemistry and a History Main Lesson.
In Class 10, the sixteen year-old yearns to understand the world and how they can find purpose in it. The beginnings of the balance and harmony, which was searched for in Class 9 begin to become visible. The development of greater clarity of thought and an increasing ability to form balanced judgments helps pupils to extricate themselves from the unstable nature of their emotional lives. The students begin to discover their own inner freedom to determine their pathway through life.
The students in Class 10 increasingly develop the capacity to take responsibility for their own work and behaviour and are able to make and follow through choices based on their own insight. Where the 15 year olds make strong judgements largely based on emotional responses, the 16 year old students become able to form more balanced opinions and are able to justify them articulately. They are increasingly able to develop empathy and respond to the practical needs of those around them.
The Class 11 curriculum reflects the themes of going beyond the sense perceptive, finding balance between polarities, processes and renewal. If Class 9 expands horizons, Class 10 focuses on where things come from and Class 11 develops insight. The students will become more able to think and form judgements objectively, synthesise information into a holistic view, think about infinite and non-sense-perceptible phenomena, act with a self-directed sense of social responsibility and correlate and integrate related phenomena in a more holistic understanding.
The Main Lessons for will be Physics, studying electromagnetism, radiation and radioactivity and theories on the nature of matter; Chemistry, looking at the discovery of the elements and their characteristic reactions and Geography, studying world economics and the impact of humanity on the environment. This incorporates the Walpole camp where students come face to face with the natural environment, struggle and revel in the elements and deeply consider their place in the world. Links between disciplines become apparent. For instance, the behaviour of matter as it applies in both Physics and Chemistry. In addition to recognising links between subjects, a balance between polarities is sought, for example, human discovery and exploitation of naturally occurring elements and conservation of the environment for the benefit of all living things.
Main Lessons will be Music, Projective Geometry and English Literature, which involves the study of Parzival, a late Medieval quest for selfhood that pertinently reflects the student’s inner path. Links between the themes in Parzival and those of 19th and 20th Century literature are examined, with a close look at the Romantics: imagination, nature, the artistic and the sublime versus materialism.
The Class 12 students are embarking on a nine month journey which will give birth to a new dimension, a broadening of their vision as their thinking deepens. They are now standing on the edge of a threshold, behind them is their school journey and ahead the larger world and experiences that overreach the safety of ordinary existence.
During the 18th year the moon returns to the exact place of our birth. It takes eighteen years seven months and eleven or so days for all the positions of the moon to be worked through. Then comes the moment when the sun enters our biography and we are back in our birth moment. This is the opportunity for new resolves, when the first steps towards a career path or a new set of values is embraced.
With the end of adolescence the young person is expected to take hold of the reins and steer their own chariot. The Independent Class 12 Project gives them the opportunity to do just that. Some students will focus on the past while others will focus on their future impulse. Often students focusing on the past will leave this behind at the end of Class 12 while others exploring a new impulse will continue after school. Students will be encouraged to express their ever-strengthening individuality but also be aware of the need to exist within a community.
Main lessons focus on the key aspects of this developmental phase. Architecture has them creating an individual design model which has to accepted within a community; in the World Literature Main Lesson, students encounter something more than the individual author, they encounter the folk soul of people around the world; with an overview of World History students experience being a member of humanity, belonging within their own destiny and realising a path towards the future; Physics will help develop not blind belief in science but rather a personal capacity for judgement; in Calculus students will experience a new dimension as quality and quantity separate.
This of course is also the year of the Senior Ball which takes place in the first term.