With sixth grade the content and quantity of subjects expand significantly to meet the needs of the pre-adolescent. In addition to deepening the work with previously encountered material, many new subjects are introduced, all with the goal of helping the student maintain a healthy interest in the world. The curriculum encourages pre-adolescents to direct their gaze enthusiastically and sympathetically out into the world and thereby come to a deeper understanding of self.
Dramatic inner changes are set in motion during this period. Biographies of men and women who struggled with the challenges of their times provide the perspective from which history is viewed. Over the course of sixth, seventh and eighth grades, the history of European and American civilization is surveyed from ancient to modern times. In seventh grade, students are able to see a reflection of their struggle for individual identity in Renaissance studies, from Italian artists capturing new visions to scientists and religious reformers grappling with the constrictions of long held beliefs, to bold explorers venturing into the unknown.
A new capacity for exact observation is cultivated through the physics lessons, in which students move from the mystery of phenomena to its exact measurement. Inorganic chemistry is a highlight of seventh grade as is the chemistry of foods in eighth.
The physical changes of this age lead naturally to a study of human physiology, which is taught from the hygienic perspective of responsibility for the integrity and health of our bodies. Earth science supports the ever-expanding geographic studies of Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the planet as a whole.
Business arithmetic, algebra and geometry become formal disciplines and are studied over the course of all middle school grades. The language arts curriculum expands into the interweaving branches of literature, grammar and composition and along with mathematics, occupies both main lesson and ongoing skills classes.
Thank you to The Austin Waldorf School for their Middle School description.
The spirit of conquest and the rule of law: Collaboration, Self direction, Grounding and Emerging
Sixth grade marks the emergence of adolescence and the struggle between light and dark. Self-consciousness comes in the form of argument, deflection, and tears. Who is my friend? What’s happening to my body? Why is everyone mean to me? This feeling approach to thinking is the first step toward critical thinking. Roman Civilization and Middle Ages history mirror students’ intensity. Science (astronomy, physics, mineralogy) is met with discernment and insight. New subjects encourage a healthy interest and compassion for the world, which lead to a better understanding of the self.
Questing into the unknown: Discovery, Resistance, Optimism, Chaos and Order
Looking outward while feeling inward, the 7th grade student is expressive and forceful, challenging authority and exploring limits. With a torch in hand, they are seeking to assert their independence and find their place, while remembering to provide light for those behind them. The Renaissance—examining truth and beauty via scientists, religious reformers and artists—permeates the entire curriculum.
Extending one’s horizons: Self confidence, Interest in the world, Self love, and Service to others
The task of elementary education is to give children an understanding of humanity and the world they live in, 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 learning in later years. With the completion of the eighth grade the students should have a well-rounded general picture of human life and universe. This last year of elementary school should not only bring all previous experiences to a new peak, but enable the students to enter fully and potently into the life of their own time.