Uniquely Steiner – Class Teachers and Main Lessons
Steiner education is an increasingly unique, humanity focused education where creativity, curiosity, imagination, empathy, multidisciplinary skills development and relationships are based on the perspective that every child is a unique individual. The Primary school teacher fosters an unhurried early learning programme free of National Standards and digital devices while learning explodes more quickly, with less anxiety and resultant high-level academic outcomes in the middle years. The HEAD, HEART and HAND learning mix in all lessons creates the well-rounded holism of our tamariki’s growth. Learning is enhanced by strong bonds with the teacher who often stays with the class for all the primary years. This teacher’s task is to not only teach those skills so necessary in contemporary society – writing, reading, and mathematics – but to also establish an active working relationship and deep connection with both the child and the child’s family. In the classroom, this teacher is especially responsible for the Main Lessons, and for the co-ordination of the other core curriculum subjects.
The Class Teacher
He waka eke noa We are all in the canoe together
Imagine living the marvels and tragedies of the world's historical cultures, experiencing the wonders of the sciences, the beauty of botany, the magic complexity of geometry or the flow of geography, deeply and intensely through your primary school! Every morning until morning tea, a theme will be studied for several weeks in what is referred to as the “Main Lesson”. This structure uses storytelling, experiential, artistic and academic learning towards an enthusiastic love of the world, its people and the natural world. Wonder and awe grow as the future life of curiosity. Writing and recording skills further consolidate a deep long-term memory. The Main lesson caters to a more intensive nature of learning that occurs when interest is aroused and, for that time, it is the only thing worth doing!
Children create their own text, called the Main Lesson Book, which may include a self-researched project as an extension-study of the theme. Characteristically these books are works of art crammed with fascinating accounts of the subject, which become prized family possessions, and reference material for further study – all without a computer!
Steiner schools are the only schools in Aotearoa to have never used National Standards. The Ministry approved Steiner Learning learning progressions are the basis for a ‘success for all’ approach to learning and assessment that allows students to learn in an unpressured manner and exercise successfully their intellectual capacity in the middle years. Our precise analysis of student assessment is used to assist every student's next steps and never as a ranking or student comparison. The curriculum does not use any electronic teaching medium believing that social interaction and inquiry through hands-on engagement is a more sound and long-lasting educational approach. Care is taken to develop subject content in a way that is relevant to the developmental maturity of the child. Consequently, some subjects are introduced only at a later stage while other subjects will be studied in depth at a very early stage. In general, the more intellectual subjects are approached later, when the child exhibits the appropriate faculty for understanding.
The gentle learning approach means that children are 6-7 years old when entering Class 1 will not be equivalent to their peers' formal academic learning (but have had lots of fun!) yet by year 8 they have surpassed the standardised curve of attainment in reading, writing and maths. Add to this the annual camps, plays, music concerts, festivals and specialist learning subjects (see below), our tamariki have a wide cultural and values experience that ultimately will take them far on the path of learning and living.
Subject Lessons: These occur regularly throughout the week as timetabled. The approach is always imaginative, experiential, habit forming and rhythmic and accommodates the diverse range of student capacities. Subject lessons are Maths, English, sciences, handwork, eurythmy (movement), physical education, gardening, woodwork, cooking, music, art, games (sometimes juggling).
Specialist Subjects: A number of the above subjects are taught by teachers who are specialists in their field. In addition, class teachers may interchange in order to offer their particular talents in other classes.
Commencing from class 3 (Year 4) through to Class 6 (Year 7), all of our students participate in the school strings programme, learning either the violin, viola or cello. Following the Suzuki method of learning by ear, the students have small group lessons once a week in addition to participating in the school orchestra.
Stimulating the child’s sense of harmony and rhythm, learning an instrument also has important benefits for fine motor dexterity and developing neurological attributes such as memory.
From finger knitting (yr 1) to using needles (yr 7) to turn the heel of a sock requires immense focus (no dropped stitches), correct tension, intellectual sharpness and perseverance. Handwork is a unique subject in our schools where our tamariki transform natural wool and fabric into much loved hats, dolls, scarves moving from gross motor capacity to very fine finger (motor) control and related cognitive growth.
Every child in the primary school has gardening experiences, while in classes 5, 6 and 7 (yrs 6, 7, 8) they prepare, plant, cultivate, harvest and then cook their produce. The Harvest Festival celebrates the interrelationship between the elements, the earth and human endeavor.
This movement art form, developed by Steiner, is often expressed as ‘visible sound’. To move with both dexterity and inner delicacy through music or poetry develops a unique balance of hand, heart and head – physical capacity, aesthetic feeling and mobile thought.
SUCCESS IN SPORTS
Every student from class 4 (Year 5) through to Class 10 (Year 11) is involved in our inter-school sports programme, be it in swimming, cross country or a team sport. Despite our limited pool of students in each year to form a team (compared to larger schools with hundreds of students in each year), our sports teams regularly achieve incredible results – in recent years making it to the Canterbury finals in sports such as netball, indoor soccer and basketball.
Our success in sports can be attributed to the motivation and dedication of our students and coaches and their ability to work cohesively as a team.
Sports which have been offered in recent years are: netball, basketball, badminton, table tennis, hockey, football, swimming, surfing, athletics, cross country, archery, tennis, touch rugby, volleyball, golf, squash, skiing, snowboarding, equestrian and cycling.