Teaching Grade 6: From Chaos and Coldness to Order and Compassion

With Anne Clair Goodman

Welcome to Grade 6, a year marked by the developmental changes of the twelfth year of the child. Gone are the subtlety, grace, and balance of the Ancient Greeks. In their place is the indomitable desire to “conquer” the world, challenge reputed truths, and test both inner and outer limits. These tendencies are met by an equally robust and well-balanced curriculum.

In history, the sixth grader is led out of the divine and mythical beginnings of the Roman Empire and Ancient China into the Middle Ages and the rise of Islam throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. In the study of Latin America geography and the rise of the diverse Mayan and Incan cultures, the students expand their understanding of the world. In science, the new subjects of astronomy, mineralogy, and physics focus on the observation of phenomena in the world, providing a sense of balance and order for the twelve-year-old’s turbulent inner life. In math, the lawfulness, precision, and beauty of geometry are explored with the introduction of the compass, while the pragmatism of business math helps the twelve year old become––in the sense of economics––more worldly.

These subjects weave together to support the children’s emerging thinking capacities, while fostering in them a keen interest in the bigger picture of life’s mysteries. Each subject holds possibilities for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we will use these lenses to expand our understanding of twelve year olds and how to meet them in the healthiest ways. Time will be set aside to discuss the twelve-year change, medieval games, knighthood-related projects and ceremonies, as well as class plays and field trip possibilities.

Anne Clair Goodman has been a grades faculty member at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh (WSP) since 2000, where she has found great joy and satisfaction working with students, colleagues, and parents to bring Waldorf education into the 21st Century. A graduate of Acorn Hill, Washington Waldorf School, Oberlin College (BA in History), and Antioch New England Graduate University (M.Ed. and Waldorf Teacher Certificate), Anne Clair is currently the class teacher for the Class of 2022 at WSP and the Grades Faculty Chair, a role she has held since 2014.

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