Bringing a Living Approach to Science Teaching in Grades 6, 7, and 8


July 3-July 8

Bringing a Living Approach to Science Teaching in Grades 6, 7, and 8

with Gary Banks

Together we will explore a living, phenomena-based approach to teaching science. The intention of the course is to deepen the connection that practicing middle school teachers have with science and to explore how these exciting topics can be brought to the students in a way that develops joy and enthusiasm and strengthens the capacities for observation and thinking.

We will take a full week to observe some of the key phenomena from grades 6-8 science courses, including physics, chemistry, and life sciences, while developing language that is true to what we experience. We will go through the practice of thinking through to a deeper understanding of what we can learn from the phenomena we observe as we would expect of our students. We will also explore ways that written work can be approached. Through exploring common natural phenomena and learning to think about them in a living way, teachers will develop their own capacities to bring these important and challenging courses to their students. In the process, we can hope to deepen our capacities to understand the world through our own inner efforts without always having to rely on the “experts”. In taking up this approach, teachers may also find they can use this phenomenological method of teaching to find living approaches to other subject areas as well.


Gary Banks has taught science, math, and other subjects in high school and middle school at the Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor, Michigan, since 2007. In addition, he sponsors a Hiking Club that takes two wilderness trips yearly, assists in the conducting of the all-high-school choir, and manages the high school garden. Gary has taught in many teacher training contexts, including the Teaching Sensible Science course, as well as being a teacher at Waldorf schools in New Hampshire and Colorado. Before entering teaching, Gary worked on the Space Station project for a NASA contractor and as a university student.  He has degrees in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado, and a Master’s of Education Degree and Waldorf Certification from Antioch New England Graduate School.  Beyond a passion for teaching, his interests include family time, biodynamic gardening, choral singing, playing musical instruments, and wilderness backpacking.


Courses Week 1