A holistic approach towards a healthy body, healthy feeling life and healthy thinking is paramount. Rudolf Steiner identified the process of human development in seven-year stages.
In the first phase, in our EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMMES we educate through imitation to nurture the development of the body and the will.
In the second seven years, MIDDLE SCHOOL, (Class 1 to 8) we educate through the feeling life of the child and their imagination. We seek not merely to impart knowledge, but to help form the capacity for thinking itself.
The SENIOR YEARS focus on the intellectual development and further develop the capacity to think independently and creatively.
Art in many forms – poetry, drama, painting, drawing, sculpture, music, singing and movement – is an integral part of the main intellectual and academic learning and is not considered a separate decorative activity.
The Main Lesson
The Main Lesson is taught in the first two hours of each day. A particular subject is studied for 3-4 weeks to allow for a deep and enriching learning experience. The Main Lesson endeavours, through the use of a wide range of strategies, to unite all the powers of the soul by engaging the child’s thinking, feeling and willing.
The vehicle for the presentation of all Main Lesson work, and wherever possible all practical work as well, is ‘imagination’. The teacher strives to represent all intellectual work through imaginative pictures. These pictures are mobile and alive within the child, compared to their antithesis found in pre-formed concepts and isolated information, which are to be strenuously avoided. Art and artistic presentation thus become the teacher’s main tools.
In general, a three-day rhythm of presenting and completing work is assumed:
- Day One: Experience through narration (thinking)
- Day Two: Recollection, synopsis, illustration (feeling)
- Day Three: Conclusion, activities relating to theme (willing)
The curriculum is based on the major epochs of history, the folk wisdom of fairy tales, the human qualities of animal fables, the deeds of great people and their connection to nature, legends from the Old Testament, Norse, Ancient Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman myths and Odysseys, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and subsequent Revolutions. Mathematics and Science are also taught in the Main Lesson, as well as language and the humanities.
We encourage the children to present their work artistically and with care. Through this experience of intellectual and practical work, they can ‘live’ major historical periods and stages in human development.
Epochs – Children’s Development
Rudolf Steiner saw the process of human development mirrored in different stages of world history or epochs. Learning about these epochs through the mythologies and wonderfully imaginative pictures of their history reflects the deep inner truths of life by which children’s learning is greatly nourished. The class teacher upholds the tradition of oral literature. Each class is told the stories from relevant mythologies.
- Class 1 – Fairy tales (from around the world)
- Class 2 – Celtic myths, lives of Saints, animal fables
- Class 3 – The Old Testament, Hebrew mythology
- Class 4 – Norse mythology
- Class 5 – Ancient Indian mythology, ancient Persian mythology
- Class 6 – Greek, Roman and Egyptian Myths
- Class 7 and 8 – Biographies and Explorers of the World, the Renaissance, the Industrial and French Revolutions, East and West and an introduction to modern history.
Please note that the order in which the Main Lesson descriptors are presented in this document is not necessarily the order in which they have to be delivered.
The Class Teacher
A unique feature of Steiner education is that the class teacher stays with the class from Class 1 – 8, thus playing a vital role as educator, guide and protector. The teacher endeavours to stand before the class as a representative of the human being – providing not only continuity from class to class, but an authority that the child can trust.
The teacher can therefore develop a strong relationship with, and understanding of, the child’s academic, social and emotional needs. There is also an ongoing connection with the child’s family, which assists with the teacher’s perception of the child.
Literacy and Numeracy are introduced in Class 1. Science, geography and history are introduced as the child’s development is nourished by the relevant context.
For example, science is taught through nature stories in Class1, and animal kingdoms and biology are studied in Class 3. Botany is introduced in Class 5 and meteorology and geology in Class 6. In Class 7 and 8 students study anatomy and physiology, as well as chemistry (organic and inorganic) and physics.
In Class 3 students study buildings of the world and undertake a class building project. Many of the structures in the school grounds, such as pizza ovens, garden sheds, shade shelters and the barn, have been constructed as class building projects. In Class 3, students also study horticulture and begin the gardening program. The School has an excellent vegetable garden, which provides for winter soups and summer salads. From Class 4 onwards, the study of contemporary geography, history and sociology is introduced. Asian, American Indian and Australian Aboriginal stories are introduced as planned by each individual teacher.
The rhythmic structuring of the school day is integral to Steiner education.
- The Main Lesson: The morning session introduces all new intellectual content.
- The Middle session: The teacher works with practice sessions developing skills from previous Main lessons.
- The afternoon session: This is devoted to more specifically physical activities, including painting, craft, sculpture and sport.
Craft (hand work) is an important area of the curriculum, harmonising and balancing the intellectual work undertaken by children. Through craftwork certain qualities can be developed, such as perseverance and determination, concentration, an eye for beauty, colour and design, fine motor skills and particular technical skills. In craft, the school works with fine quality natural materials to encourage care and respect for the handwork process.
It is helpful for parents to take a supportive interest in the progress of their child’s craft activities. The beautiful and useful items created all encourage appreciation and respect.
Parent involvement in craft is encouraged and appreciated and will be communicated to parents either through the class carers or through the “Penny for Your Thoughts” newsletter.
Music is a strong part of our curriculum with both a classroom music program and a specialist stringed instrument program. In the classroom, all students learn recorder and singing. Music plays an important role in the festivals of the school.
The stringed music programme is introduced in Class 3 until Class 6, when every child commences on a violin, viola or cello. In Class 7 and 8, students elect either to continue a stringed instrument or to participate in a general class music ensemble. Purchases of stringed instruments are recommended through a range of local music businesses.
Languages: – Spanish and French
Spanish is introduced in Kindergarten and followed through to Class 8. This helps develop children’s oral and aural skills. French is introduced in Class 7&8. Through learning two languages other than English, a child is also introduced to whole new cultures and a wider concept of the world.
Eurythmy is an art of movement that came into being early in this century. Movement through gesture and dance plays a vital part in every culture and community, expressing people’s experience of the world, their interpretation of what is beautiful and true. Eurythmy is movement which is filled with meaning, enlivening our senses and nourishing our imagination.
Support Education is provided to children on a 1-1 and small group basis for those students requiring additional literacy and numeracy support. Highly qualified Support Education staff develop Individual learning programmes, which take account of the needs of the whole child.
Sport and Games are planned to correspond with the child’s developmental needs. Sport and games develop children as cooperative individuals,
Excursions and Camps
Class camps and excursions take place each year for classes 3 and above. Excursions and camps are not optional as they are seen as an important part of the child’s social development, and are clearly integrated with the curriculum and main lesson work.
A note advising details and costs of camps and excursions is sent home to parents in advance. Any outstanding money is added to your invoice at the beginning of the next term. Permission notes must be signed for all camps.
Increasingly numbers of children come to school with special learning needs, developmental needs, behavioural or social skill needs. While many of these can be addressed within the class, one-to-one tuition or small group work outside the child’s usual class situation may also be offered.
The school offers programs to children with Special Needs according to the availability of funds and resources to adequately support these needs. An assessment is made of each child’s learning needs during the enrolment application process.
The Steiner curriculum is based on a universal pattern of child development which provides the basis for both the curriculum content and the way in which this is presented to the children. By integrating the humanities, arts and sciences, it strives to give students a picture of the whole world and to educate not just the intellect, but the whole child.
Every aspect of Steiner education seeks to develop the proper relationship between intellectual, physical and emotional development – the head, hand and heart. Thus each activity, each day, each week and each term, will reflect this ‘head, heart and hand’ balance.
The approach is always from the whole to the parts, the concrete to abstract, so that learning takes place in an integrated way. Subjects are studied in relation to each other so that children perceive their unity, rather than splitting them into separate compartments.
Attention is paid to the learning process rather than the product, and engaging the child’s imagination during the journey rather than focusing only on the destination. This child-centred approach is built around the natural rhythms of the day, the week and the year, and the celebration of festivals and special occasions forms an important part of the life of the school.
The Steiner curriculum is comprehensively co-educational in that all students, irrespective of gender or ability, are expected to participate in the full range of activities. The Castlemaine Steiner School is committed to supporting students from a diverse range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.