During the 7th grade the students study Renaissance and the Age of Discovery
As students move into 7th grade they are generally better able to take an independent and scientific approach to learning, a maturation which parallels the historic shift occurring during the Renaissance. Studying the biographies of figures such as Magellan, Drake, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Newton, Copernicus and Kepler lets students, themselves in the throes of discovering their own individuality, connect to the personal struggles of these influential explorers, artists and scientists.
For students, the inner discovery of self is complemented by outer exploration in geography, just as Renaissance social developments led to the great exploratory voyages. The class continues to study the continents, particularly Europe, Asia, and Africa, focusing on physical characteristics and their relation to human culture, as well as the era of encounter with Europeans.
During Spanish instruction, in addition to the ongoing development of oral and written skills, students read about Spain during the Age of Exploration. In German, students conduct simple written and oral dialogues. They study German geography and customs and may write to pen pals at German Waldorf schools.
In art, perspectiveâ€“the great discovery of the Renaissanceâ€“is explored. The class works with black and white drawing and shadowing, and charcoal. In painting, landscapes and color are the focus.
A capella singing, including Renaissance musical forms such as motets, madrigals, and ballads, is emphasized, while students begin or continue playing various sizes of recorders.
In science, students explore the cosmos by studying astronomy, if not already introduced. The lives of the great astronomers demonstrate the human striving required for their profound innovations to have occurred. Physics continues the study of how the world functions with inquiries into light, electricity, and magnetism. Mechanics entails experiments with the axle, pulley, levers, the inclined plane, wheel and screw. Experimentation with combustion, salts, and acids and bases, continues the investigation of he physical world through chemistry, leading to a unit on nutrition and how the body transforms food.
Students produce individual research projects and oral presentations in Language Arts and explore their blossoming internal life through creative writing exercises on themes of wish, wonder, and surprise. Grammar instruction continues. Speech practice develops studentsâ€™ ability to express themselves publicly. This in turn provides the groundwork for the 7th grade play.
Math studies move from numeric calculation into algebra. For the first time, the teacher introduces mathematical concepts with no relationship to physical perception: negative numbers, square and cube roots and ratios, which make real demands on studentsâ€™ imaginative powers. The class works with graphs throughout the year. In practice math, pre-algebra and business arithmetic continue, and elementary bookkeeping concepts may begin.
In handwork, students draw on their study of human proportion in Renaissance art to design and sew their own dolls and clothing for dolls. In woodworking, they carve bowls and model in clay. Eurythmy focuses on poems imbued with contrast, wonder and surprise; ballads with quick dramatic movement; drama and tragedy.
Friday afternoon electives begin, with such options as rock climbing, snowboarding, swimming, and archery.
On field trips, classes visit relevant exhibits (shows of Renaissance art, the Tall Sailing Ships, etc.) whenever possible. Usually the class takes part in a ropes challenge course together.