By Mark Schofield, Class Five Teacher
Fifth graders are in the middle of their 8 year elementary school journey. They are not yet Middle School age and they have moved beyond most of the basic learning that they have mastered in their first four years of school. They are ready to become more independent and begin to take responsibility for their own learning. In deference to this change, I try to address them as ‘students’ not ‘children’.
They are ready to become more independent and begin to take responsibility for their own learning. In deference to this change, I try to address them as ‘students’ not ‘children’.
- Mark Schofield
This change is also reflected in the Waldorf Curriculum for grade five. Last year we began to look at our school, our communities and our local areas Through our local history and geography blocks. We explored our neighborhood and learned about the history and geography Cape Cod. At the end of the year we began to study Massachusetts and looked at the geography of New England.
Learning Beyond Local
This year our scope has suddenly expanded. Now we are looking at the geography and history of North America. Some things are familiar but the story of the North America has epic sweep and scope. To encompass this scope require a great deal of new learning. The location of countries as well as US states must be learned. A basic understanding of the history of the continent also helps. These basics will be built upon in the higher grades.
Children love animals. They love to talk about them, model them in clay, paint and draw. My fourth graders did as well. This year the curriculum asks them to put the animals to the side. They are not retired but have to be satisfied with being lesser players in our stories of biomes and civilizations. The main focus of attention this year is not animals but plants.
We will start with trees strong and majestic, so much a part of the North American epic. We will learn how the silence of trees masks complexity and power. Most importantly, we will how every tree is part of the intricate community that is a forest. This study will provide an entryway into this other realm, the kingdom of plants and flowers to be studied in the spring.
Developing Young Philosophers
Right now, going from fourth to fifth grade seems an awesome step. We still want to romp and fight with Thor and Loki. But I know that in the spring, after we traveled through India, Persia and Egypt we will settle ourselves among the flowers and get to know them. We will study Greece and travel to the Olympics in Lexington. We will begin to see things not as Norse gods or small children but as students and young philosophers.