When does a group become a group?? When do 20 or so smallish individuals pulling in 20 or so different directions begin to consistently find their common purpose?? For Ms. Doyles very, very social students, its in Class Two.
?Lively, bright, and eager describes this group in a mouthful, according to their teacher.? Sunrises seven- and eight-year-olds are definitely here to learn and to socialize.? Ms. Doyle says this can be challenging, and also is one of their greatest strengths as a more and more cohesive group.
?Seven-turning-eight is the time of animal fables and saint stories in the Waldorf curriculum.? An odd combination at first hearing, perhaps, but one that speaks to your needs when youre seven or eight.? Higher self (enlightened human purpose) and lower self (lesser or destructive impulses) appear on the horizon at about this age.? High contrast pictures of the childrens inner light and shadows are painted every day in their social lives at school.? The shadow and the light are part of every one of us, of course, and these students dip into both as they grapple to find themselves between positive and negative poles.
?A Class Two teacher therefore leans on the lower escapades of the animals and the higher deeds of the saints to speak to the children about their wholeness - and their choices.? In grade two the teacher has the unique experience of finding herself addressing moral issues with every single story she tells, whether in a language arts block or in an arithmetic lesson.? Every story our Class Two will hear this year will come with a moral message without moralizing.? How is that done, exactly?? Meet the pedagogical story.
?For example, with Class Two, Ms. Doyle witnesses the social dynamic in her class.? She sees over and over again exactly how dynamic it can be.? Big changes in relations and behavior occur not just within a week but within a day or an hour, and 7- and 8-year old versions of bestial and saintly acts take place.? She spins special-order customized stories of lowly and inspired behavior in a fellow creature or human being in response.? They offer the children descriptive, imaginative pictures of the results of low acts and the internal excitement of a noble task, nobly performed.? And then later then she gets to hear her own story-words quoted from one child to another as they play!
?As in the other grades, the most pertinent themes and developmental tasks are mirrored by other teachers and activities ? Eurythmy movements, outdoor games.? In the second year, animals and saints are joined by characters like the King of Irelands son and Finn MacCoull the giant, as the flavour of fairy tale lingers on from grade one in a new context, infused by Celtic culture and motifs as well as the beasts and saints.? In story, songs, and spoken verse, which weave the fabric of the childrens days at Sunrise, the play between light and dark continues for Class Two.?
- This article was written by a Sunrise Waldorf School parent for the Daybreak Monthly Newsletter which can be viewed online at www.sunrisewaldorfschool.org