As the child enters Primary School, the earlier stage of imitation expands into a need for applied learning and a guiding authority.
The Role of the Teacher
The class teacher should become the beloved, respected and readily accepted representative of the world. In Waldorf schools the class teacher moves with his or her class right through the Primary School. Through this a deeper understanding develops between the pupils and their teacher. This secure continuity enhances the children’s learning. Throughout the years the class teacher and the parents form a co-operative relationship centered on the growing child.
The teacher embarks on a journey with the children as a guiding, loving authority, who undertakes to help the child develop his/her full potential. Using the Waldorf curriculum and methods, the teacher facilitates education where ‘people learn and go on learning throughout their whole lives’. He/she must continue to develop his/her own inner resources so that the child experiences a holistic education and can, as a result, make strides towards becoming a full human being, who can contribute to the ever changing demands of inner development and of our world.
The School Day
In Waldorf education one frequently hears the phrase “thinking, feeling and willing”. These three aspects of learning are always present in the teaching, particularly in the main lesson—the foundation of the Waldorf school day. The school day begins with a lively two-hour Main Lesson, which concentrates on one subject for a period of three to four weeks. The lesson begins with recollection of content from the previous day: the children relating back to the teacher their memories, experience and learning (thinking). Then will the teacher present a continuation of the topic, stimulating the children’s wonder and interest (feeling) through the lively, imaginative and artistic telling of the story. The third stage of the lesson involves the activity (willing) of the children in drawing, writing, art, speech, music and movement. This is an economical method of teaching.
The uninterrupted focus on a particular theme, enables the children to immerse themselves completely in the subject matter at hand. It also allows the class teacher the freedom to structure the lessons creatively, incorporating a variety of activities such as music to enhance the teaching of geography, and the use of drama and storytelling to expand the work in history. The child‘s feeling of wonder for form is encouraged and stimulated in the earliest classes. Through large coloured free-hand drawings the child develops an experience of inner harmony, which can be applied later, both in practical tasks and in exact thinking. In addition to helping develop good handwriting, these exercises give a real basis for the exact geometrical constructions that follow.
Main Lessons include Mathematics, Geometry, Ancient Civilisations, Mythology, English Literature, and later Biology, Science, Astronomy and the Humanities.