Secondary – The thinking phase
In the Upper School, a Class Guardian stays with each class from Class 6 to Class 10, providing security and care to the group. Each subject is taught by subject specialist who is particularly passionate about their area of expertise. At this stage of their development students are encouraged to be independent thinkers.
As children get older, parents want to know if they will be prepared for what lies beyond Tarremah. According to Rudolf Steiner, the greatest mistake educators can make is to educate students for the world that adults live in. Instead we must educate students so that they can take up their rightful place in the times in which they live.
With the completion of puberty, independent reasoning arises. At that time human beings no longer subject themselves to authority; they form their own judgments and confront others as individuals.
Children are guided and nurtured during this year of transition where they are carefully introduced to the culture of the Upper School.
Children in this period of development typically experience great changes physically, emotionally and cognitively. They can become acutely aware of themselves and of the world in which they are ‘finding’ themselves. Intense curiosity about the world, particularly the social world, and much questioning and judgement of the inconsistencies that they discover, become the focus at this age. These internal changes, linked as they are with the physical changes wrought by the onset of puberty, can cause children to experience extremes of emotion that may be bewildering for themselves and those around them. At the same time, new forces are awakening: intellectual changes, enhancing the ability to think more effectively in terms of cause and effect and logical thought processes.
Important main lessons include the History of Rome, business maths, geology, physics, astronomy and geography and English. The arts continue with painting, craft, PE, German and Japanese, music, singing and the introduction of woodwork.
The children in this period of development have the threshold of puberty to cross and visions of adolescence to grapple with, as profound physical, intellectual and emotional changes enter into their lives.
The changes bring a significant expansion to their consciousness of the larger world and are often accompanied by a ‘reaching out’ gesture; wanting to know, wanting to feel, wanting to experience further horizons of life. Personal relationships intensify and develop to new depths. Likes and dislikes can swell to loves and hates; a yearning for independence can be complicated by a strong desire for acceptance and belonging; sporadic bursts of energy vying with periods of lethargy.
The theme for this year is that of journey and discovery. Discovery of the world, discovery of self. The curriculum offers students focus on concepts, calling forth their newly emerging critical faculties; classes which focus on the human condition – collectively and individually and classes which challenge physical capabilities.
Whilst variance in development is normal in this age group, many Class Eight students are beginning to move beyond the insecurities associated with the psychological and physical changes of puberty and early adolescence. They are often absorbed with the search for their own identity and keen to voice their own opinions, although this confidence can be dependent on peer acceptance. “Being an individual within the group” describes well the tension in the young adolescent’s journey.
Cognitively, students are further developing their ability to grapple effectively with concepts, ideas and their critical ability to understand complexities, nuances and abstract reasoning. Interest in the “real” world also continues to grow. Along with this development, Class Eight students are gaining in confidence, optimism, assertiveness and reasonableness.
Continuing with the complex process of identity formation, students ponder questions of morality, ethics, relationships, sexuality, love and the strong and opposing forces of sympathy and antipathy. Life can be perceived as black or white, tragedy or comedy and as such both disappointments and achievements can be keenly felt.
Teaching is increasingly addressed to the awakening powers of thought and judgement and the recognition of complexities, which calls for a stronger training of intellect and logic. The curriculum, and its implementation, endeavours to bring order to impulsive and subjective feelings and to lead adolescents from their inner world to the objective world around them.
Childhood is left behind as students begin to forge their future and stand on their own feet.
The Class Ten student is maturing to a new intellectual focus and desire to know and understand information and details. Previously, students were often satisfied to know ‘how it is’, whereas now they wish to know ‘how we know it is’ by exploring not only information, but seeking insight. Behind every question of “what”, is the question of “how”, and most importantly, how the facts relate to them personally. Their interactions with adults can acquire a sharper, more existential tone.
At this age, young people develop their own sense of self in strong judgements of sympathy and antipathy. Often the conventions and facades of the world are ruthlessly interrogated to expose what lies behind them; students can be rigourous in their pursuit of perceived injustice. The fifteen to sixteen year old’s quest for understanding of self is assisted through their enhanced powers of judgement in the exploration of new territory. By the end of Class Ten many students will have begun to achieve objectivity and clarity in their thinking and to draw conclusions logically.
In a healthy person, after puberty, a chord is sounded within the human being; it results in an awareness of one’s self.