June 26-July 1
Awakening to Adolescence in a Rapidly Changing World ~ Preparing for Grade 8
With Sarah Nelson
As 8th graders cross over the threshold into adolescence, leaving childhood firmly behind, they open up to the complexities of human society. With idealism in their hearts, they long to understand the world around them, and they strive to “be the change they wish to see.” And yet, we may find our 8th graders filled with nostalgia for the journey now behind them, and happy to slow down and relive the many happy moments they shared on this educational voyage.
In this course, we will explore how we can bring our students the truth and inspiration they long for, especially in a time filled with economic, social, racial, and governmental turbulence. Many of our young people will have spent time during the last two years isolated from their peers, inundated by technology, and facing an unknown future. We will see how history and geography can illuminate their understanding of the way humanity and world social forms have evolved during the last 300 years. With biographies from times of revolution to an era when the world came together to combat genocide and fascism, our students experience the lives of heroes and moments of inspiration that were ignited in seemingly hopeless situations. To bring more diverse experiences to these topics, we will seek out stories from non-dominant voices in history, and reflect on how our perceptions of diversity exist today.
In contrast to the uncertainty of our present world and the complexity of human relationships in society, we can also bring a sense of certainty through the study of geometry and physiology. The beauty and infinite wisdom of nature can be seen in both of these subjects, and we will look at how we can use them to instill a sense of belonging to the natural world and to the cosmos. Mathematics and language arts will be woven into main lesson blocks, and we will have time to share how these skills continue to unfold and prepare students for the more advanced learning they will encounter in high school.
Lastly, we will explore how Zoom, hybrid learning, asynchronous learning, and various Internet platforms have changed our approach to teaching and learning during the upper elementary school years. How do we stay true to the essence of our work as Waldorf pedagogues, while remaining present in a rapidly-changing world? I will share with you how I have adjusted the classic 8th grade curriculum to meet the needs of this new educational milieu and how we can all stay flexible and current in these difficult times.
Sarah Nelson graduated from the Center for Anthroposophy and Antioch New England Graduate School twenty years ago. Since then she has taught at Haleakala Waldorf School in Maui, Hawaii, where she worked with students from pre-K to Grade 8. For the last five years, in addition to class teaching, she has served as leader for the Southern California and Hawaii region on AWSNA’s Leadership Council. In 2021, after completing an eight-year journey with her class in Maui, she returned to British Columbia for a sabbatical and to see what the future will bring.