History (HS 224)

In order to place this level of history teaching in its broader context, please read the following Overview of the History Curriculum:

We have three summers to prepare ourselves to teach four years of history in the Waldorf high school curriculum. 

History is the biography of humanity. We are who we are at this moment of our lives at least in part because of what has happened in the past. Now, what lies at the heart of our comprehension and teaching of history is the anthroposophical conviction that a human being is actually a spiritual being who is taking on the task of being human. We learn how to be human in all senses of the word. Thus, we can look quite broadly at this human activity and say: in the distant past, humanity shared a one-ness in its nature that, over time and for many reasons, evolved into the creation of many cultures that spread over the face of the globe. Some cultures died, some expanded into what we can call civilizations. All this activity leads us to the present.

Historians look at these cultures from many different perspectives. The biographical one affords us a particularly effective one, for we then can ask the question: what is the relationship of individuals to their society? It is clear that it changes over time: broadly speaking, we can say that in earlier times the individuals aligned their individuality to the common good of the community while, currently, especially in the West, the individual has become more prominent, even more powerful, than the norms of society.

In fact, the question of what is an individual has morphed in the 21st century. The chaos and uncertainty that surrounds us as individuals and as members of a questionably stable society arise from the fact that we can easily see ourselves as individuals, and now seek our identities within some of our characterizing aspects. To know our identity is the need of our times. The answer is often sought in gender, race, ethnicity, nationalism, political opinions, religious persuasions, et al. (Caste is an interesting and highly significant characteristic in its own right.)

Is it even possible to teach history in an environment where students can have their own history and ignore all others’? When multilateral polarization is the norm? The answer is, yes.

The question of identity, however personally conceived, is one that actually unites all individuals, for it asks the question: what is the nature of a human being? What does it mean to be a spiritual being trying to perfect being human?

The progression from a shared humanity in ancient times to a shifting relationship of individual and societal rights and responsibilities over the past five millennia to an extreme form of self-interest and existential need is both cognizable and comprehensible. It is unavoidable; it is the world that we prepare our high school students to encounter and change.

We will do the following in the three summers sessions at CfA.

We will provide an overview of the biography of humanity:

Summer Session 1:

Grade 9, modern times

Grade 10, ancient times, Axial Age; Greeks and Roman republic

Summer Session 2:

Grade 11, (Roman) empire, medieval times (global), Renaissance

Summer Session 3:

Grade 12, Age of Reason, modern times

We will discover that many societies exist today at many different levels of development, and we will learn how not to think of them in a pejorative way. We will swim against the tide of our times and learn how, out of our own humanity, to value them.

We will place the human being’s development within that progression:

That is to say, we will not treat history as something that happened outside our normal human experience. We are not only our history, but we are our history. To engage in a living manner with history, we will learn to begin all history classes in the present and find connections with the past.

In this way, we will breathe some air into the questions of caste, gender, race, ethnicity, nationalism, political opinions, religious persuasions, et al and thereby create a panorama of human activity and concerns within which we can find our selves and every society existent on this remarkable globe we inhabit. Our appreciation for history will evolve into an understanding of the evolution of human consciousness.

We will expand our conceptualization of history:

When history becomes a living adventure for us, then certain rhythms will become apparent. What is true and remarkably self-evident in a human biography is discoverable in our biography of humanity. It will be clear that in the 21st century, as human beings we must learn to create a society that truly mirrors the nature of a human being. We must deal with issues that are real: the threefold social organism, the role of cycles in the evolution of consciousness, and the meeting of West and East are perhaps the most pressing.

When the students leave the high school, they will have been introduced to themselves and will, naturally, imagine a future that is within their ken and grasp.

I  Projected Learning Goals and Objectives:

Students will:
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the developmental differences of high school students in the four levels of their education
  • Know the ways in which Waldorf education develops thinking, especially as it relates to history, over the four years of high school
  • be able to apply the Waldorf approach to history in the middle levels (sophomore and junior years) of the Waldorf high school
  • know how to generate age-appropriate materials for the middle levels (sophomore and junior years) of high school
  • teach a sample Waldorf high school class
  • receive and implement constructive criticism concerning the sample class presentation

II  Overview of Course Content and Methods:

This course continues to deepen the understanding of the developmental and symptomatological approach to the teaching of history, especially as it applies to the sophomore and junior years of high school teaching.  It begins by observing the developmental changes in the junior and senior years and continues the discussion of the ways in which teacher and the Waldorf curriculum meets those needs especially in the areas of thinking.   In the latter part of the course, students will present model lessons, which the class will critique, so that the students strengthen the skill and the confidence needed to teach the middle years of high school.

III  Outline of the Course:

Weeks 1&3

A review of symptomatological and developmental approaches in the four years of high school, especially as they apply to the development of thinking; presentation of the rest of the grade ten history curriculum with emphasis on comparison and contrast as a basic technique for understanding ancient world history, the US Constitution, and Nineteenth Century America up to the Civil War.

Weeks 3&4 

Using the theme of the search for identity (“Man is the measure of all things”), a presentation of the grade eleven history curriculum with emphasis on analysis as a tool for understanding world history including the Fall of Rome through the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment; the cultural history of the “Third World”; and Nineteenth Century American History: the Civil War through the Spanish American War.

Weeks 4&5

Student presentations of sample tenth and eleventh grade classes with peer review.

IV  Verification Requirements and Evaluation Methods:

Evaluation will be based on class participation, oral presentation of independent study, and sample high school class.

V  Required Reading:

Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances as well as independent reading and study of historic periods covered in grades ten and eleven, and review of the ecological footprint material.  Short readings will be provided and used during the seminar. They will vary to some extent from student to student so as to serve the needs of individual research and presentations.



FIRST year

Second Year

Third Year