The task of elementary education is to give children an understanding of humanity and the world in which they live, and to offer them knowledge so rich and warm as to engage their hearts and energy as well as their minds. Such an understanding is the basis of all real learning in later years. Eighth grade is the crowning year of the Waldorf grade school. It is an opportunity to bring forth the many seeds previously planted. This is a transformative year and the students should feel that they have experienced a rite of passage when graduating, having solid academic skills and a well-rounded general picture of human life and the universe.
The adolescent experiences a true birth of the intellectual consciousness. Students’ sharpened observational skills and growing critical faculties open possibilities for new ideas and perceptive questioning amid growing independence and reasoning. Eighth graders develop a sense for their emerging individuality in a world where the human experience is increasingly interconnected. Eighth grade students stand at the brink of adulthood as they prepare to graduate from Maple Village Waldorf School. Our graduates continue their education at prestigious high schools throughout the region. Teachers instill in students the knowledge and confidence to face the next level of challenges as they complete their elementary years.
The central theme of this year is the struggle for human freedom throughout history. Students study the industrial revolution with its accompanying social changes, the Age of Reason, the French, American and Russian revolutions, modern history including the civil rights movement, and the information revolution. Studying such biographies as Napoleon, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Martin Luther King Jr brings alive the ideals for which these leaders fought and died.
Themes in geography also give a comprehensive world-view of the economic interconnectedness of human cultures through the use of plant, animal and mineral resources.
The science curriculum covers anatomy, specifically the skeletal and organ systems, and organic chemistry, with an emphasis on the processes of photosynthesis and digestion. Topics in physics include hydraulics, aerodynamics and meteorology including study of the climate, tides, and weather changes. Through the principles of mechanics in the steam engine, the students learn how modern knowledge of technology led to the industrial revolution.
In mathematics, students will continue the study of algebra, plane and solid geometry, graphic equations, the principles of the Fibonacci sequence, the golden mean and the five platonic solids.
Literature and writing for eighth graders concentrates on the study of Shakespeare and the short story.
In world language lessons, the students will undertake the study of poetry, verse and metric forms.
Fine and practical arts studies include portrait and landscape painting; charcoal drawing, with an emphasis on light and shadow; clay modeling; clothing construction on the sewing machine; and continued woodworking. Students will continue their instrumental music in orchestra and take up Elizabethan songs, spirituals, and other forms of American music. In physical education, students will expand on their preparation for the track and field meet.