During the 6th grade students study history and culture of Rome to the Middle Ages.
As students engage with these historic eras, they experience the shift from the Ancientsâ€™ poetic consciousness to the Medieval search for truth and development of modern scientific concepts, paralleling change in the eleven-year old. This study culminates in a two-day, inter-Waldorf school Medieval Games, combining history, ethical conduct, and physical education in a tournament, ending in a banquet. This is just one way we integrate elements of curriculum across subject boundaries.
Another way is by daily weaving music and art into academics. Students illustrate the texts they create in their books. Music, especially when relevant to the academic subject at hand, is included with other exercises. For example, in 6th grade, students sing two- and three-part choruses, and songs of Medieval minstrels. Alto, tenor and bass recorders may be introduced here, or in 7th grade. In geography, sixth graders explore the world, specifically climatic zones and their implications for temperature, vegetation, landscape and habitation. We work on English skills, with daily practice in spelling, vocabulary and grammar. Reading is ongoing, and in composition, students practice personal expression, editing and note-taking skills.
In geometry, students employ compasses and rulers to create complex figures and fashion artistic designs; they also learn the calculations and proofs involved. Business math starts, and mental math continues daily. Practice math classes are divided into sections according to studentsâ€™ abilities.
In science, teachers train students to become careful observers of natural phenomena and generalize from what they actually experience, rather than seeking to produce answers they assume to be correct. In physics, students experiment with acoustics, optics, heat, static electricity, and magnetism. In geology, the different types of rock formation are introduced, along with the relation between landscape and rock type. Field trips to observe local geology, usually at the John Day fossil beds, make this study vivid. Astronomy may begin. Some classes attend the OMSI camp at Hancock Field Station. The class also participates in a week of Outdoor School.
Students continue to build proficiency in Spanish and German. In Spanish, the class also builds world awareness by learning about Spanish-speaking countries. In German, students turn their attention to European geography and customs, and, when studying ancient Rome, focus on the Roman inhabitation of Germany.
In the arts, students continue to study eurythmy (a movement form), wet-on-wet watercolor painting, and perform in choir and orchestra. Each class presents a play, typically a drama relating to questions the class has been studying, or one that serves its particular character and needs.
Handwork and woodwork this year strengthen studentsâ€™ ability to create three-dimensional objects from flat planes. In handwork, students design soft-sculpture animals they shape and sew. In woodwork, students carve mallets, eggs and spoons, developing their skill with tools and the qualities of wood.