When reflecting on the typical middle school experience, we often think about how awkward and uncomfortable these years can be, yet there’s a sense of excitement to step into a new, more mature environment as well. These liminal years between childhood and high school are characterized by observers as awkward and often challenging, but really hold a great deal of physical, intellectual, and emotional growth in students, and if nurtured and directed, a great deal of potential for incredible learning opportunities as well. In Waldorf schools, the curriculum is specifically designed for just this purpose; to nurture, develop, and meet middle school students, in order to build their capacities and prepare them for an ever-changing world.
The middle school curriculum is presented through multiple modalities, offering students the opportunity to explore each topic deeply and find learning opportunities that work for their specific needs.
Through this multi-faceted approach to learning, students can find their strengths, explore their areas of growth, and stretch themselves in ways they may not have believed possible. To this end, all the students participate in string ensemble, choir, theater, fine arts, math, science, and history; however no subject is presented in a vacuum, but as a multidisciplinary experience, again allowing students to explore and stretch, and find and develop their own unique capacities. For example, students experience history by hearing biographies of important and influential people, and then creating from within themselves an artistic representation of what they learned, whether it be an essay about that person’s influence on the future, a poem in iambic pentameter, or a beautiful portrait. In this way, the students’ whole-beings are stimulated, intellectually, physically, and emotionally.
Sciences in middle school are taught by observing phenomena with objectivity, and from those observations, students create conclusions about the natural world. For example, in 6th grade the students observe demonstrations exploring light using everyday objects such as flashlights and mirrors, to discover that light always moves in a straight path. This observational and exploratory approach develops within students the ability to form judgements about the world around them from a place of experience, and then use what they experienced to apply it to their own lives and the world around them.
Meeting the Needs of 21st Century Global Citizens
In middle school, students also have blocks of Cyber Civics lessons. Cyber Civics is a comprehensive digital literacy curriculum created by a Waldorf parent and designed to help students navigate the digital world responsibly. Some examples of Cyber Civics lessons include Exploring Digital Citizenship, Personal Information Management, and Ethical Thinking and the Future of Technology. Waldorf students quickly master technology, and many Waldorf graduates have gone on to successful careers in the computer industry.
The eighth-grade year concludes with two large events. The first is a play performed by the eighth-grade class for the entire community. In eighth grade the play is an evening event with three or four performances for the extended community. In this way it takes on greater importance and includes more work on staging, props, costuming and lighting. The final event of the eighth grade year is the eighth-grade class trip. This opportunity allows the students to build their relationships to a new level by travel and exploration of the real world together.
Junior High Graduates Who Soar
Minnesota Waldorf School graduates have successfully navigated the transition to a variety of high schools, from large public schools such as Roseville Public High School to small private ones such as Mounds Park Academy. Because of the way Waldorf middle school engages the students, graduates have the ability to integrate thinking; to apply information as opposed to memorizing isolated facts; to be flexible, creative and willing to take intellectual risks; and are leaders with high ethical and moral standards who take initiative and are passionate to reach their goals.
If you are considering Minnesota Waldorf School and have more questions about our Middle School Program, we would love to hear from you, send us an email!