History

 

History is truly brought to life in the Santa Cruz Waldorf School! Students experience history from the early grades through art, music, drama and the creation of morning lesson books, which result from hours of engaging lectures and discussions with their class teacher.

The telling of the fairy tales and other stories in kindergarten prepares the young child for the stories to come in the later grades. In the lower grades history in not taught as a specific block but is woven throughout the curriculum. First grade stays in the fairy tale realm, second grade brings saints and fables from around the world. In third grade the stories of the Hebrew Torah are told. The children also gain a sense of the historical development of human kind through the study of shelters, textiles, and farming. In fourth grade Norse Mythology and California history and geography provides the bulk of the study. Students learn about the Ohlone people and begin making maps of their school, town and state.
Fifth grade offers students a chance to look both more broadly across the country of the United States and to delve deeply into aspects of ancient history. Study of the history and culture of ancient Egypt, India, Persia and Sumeria is enriched with artistic activity, report writing, field trips to museums and celebration of ancient religious festivals and feast days. The study of ancient Greece culminates with the participation in the Greek Games hosted by a neighboring Waldorf school.

Rome and the Middle Ages form the central facet of the sixth grade history curriculum. Roman law and discipline offers a picture of clear form to students of this age. Again, students experience medieval life in a living way through participation in a multi-school Medieval Games competition in the spring. Going beyond the borders of the United States, students are also introduced to the cultures of the Pacific Rim nations and Central and South America.

The Age of Exploration, the attempts to extend the knowledge of the lands that lay beyond the European world is the initial study of 7th grade history. The study of the Renaissance, the outstanding personalities and the scientific and artistic accomplishments of the period are among the best loved and most colorful experiences of the entire grade school curriculum. In the study of figures such as Martin Luther who took a stand against powerful conservative religious forces the virtues of conviction and courage come alive. The voice of conscience of this kind echoes deeply in young people of this age. Seventh grade also brings stories of the history of science, of those who dared, once again in the face of religious persecution, to speak of new insights that they, in their investigations toward truth, discovered. There are, too, in this year opportunities to explore cultures that shone brightly in the years before the European exploration, e.g., the Incas, Mayas, and the great kingdoms of Africa.

Eighth grade focuses on the history of the past few hundred years, a time typified by revolutions, the throwing off of the old and stepping into the future. The work done in the eighth grade helps students to gain an understanding of all that they have studied in these elementary years and prepares them for the more focused critical thinking that lies ahead in the high school years.