Grade 3 - Swadhaa - a Steiner (Waldorf) School, Pune

Swadhaa - A Steiner School

Grade 3

Waldorf schooling in India! A land that is rich in ancient wisdom locked in the hands of millions of people. A land that has allowed material consumerist forces to overwhelm it to the extent that indifference has seeped toward its own people,their manual skills dexterity and the quiet dignity with which they put to service their hands

It is not an uncommon sight even in the cities to find a cobbler mending a worn out foot-wear,basket weaver,traditional blacksmiths and goldsmiths,potter and artisan of all kind.

Not one house-hold can boast of managing its chores without a helper (except for those where it is unaffordable)….not even Waldorf Schools – perhaps this is a social and economic reality.

Perhaps it is our task to create a possibility where indifference is gradually replaced by respect and reverence ….. and the grade three curriculum is an early attempt to consciously work towards this. In the Kindergartens and lower grades this is developed out of the imitative forces of the child. Now the physical development of the child has reached a certain point where the child can consciously experience activities like farming and house building which develop respect for the hands at work and also lay foundations for living ideas.

Often in expressing our anxieties about early exposure to media and its impact on natural faculties that children bring with them we tend to sound like media-bashers. It is tough learning for teachers not to sound judgmental while talking of the consequences of the mechanical invasion into the lives of our children. Does this create an impression that we are not pro-development or pro-modernization in the realm of technological growth and changes?

Do we make moral statements against machines? Or do we strive to help children develop the right relationship with the machines? This means that they do not become enslaved to technological advances. This also means that they do not slip into the other extreme of wishing to do away with such technological growth on account of its alienating effects. When we find the right relationship with these aspects we create the possibility of working responsibly with scientific developments.

The focus on the special role of the hands, not merely in words but more importantly in deeds gives children the right perspective as they grow in regard to the Human Being and the machine. Real scientific inquiry and thinking is after all never devoid of human concerns. Conversely real human concerns can never develop by denying the reality of the scientific advances of our times.

There is a larger psychological shift in the consciousness of a child nearing the age 9. No more is the world a fairy tale – an inner separation occurs which is best met with themes of divinity behind creation, the Fall, separation, God as a symbol of authority, loss of innocence and its consequences are content suggestions –our own search has been interesting.

Stories of Creation from world mythologies have a mythical quality where Earth and Paradise are not experienced as a polarity. Nevertheless they bring a strong experience of God as the font of all Creation. Hence the work with Creation stories in grade three.
    The life of Rama with the drama of separation – first from his kingdom, and later the abduction of Seetha make a deep imprint on children at this stage. Once sent out of the Paradisical comforts of palace life, the need to come to grips with the earth and master it arises. Lakshamana’s skill in building, as evident from the time they live in the forest, opens up the wide world of archetypal professions. The social aspects of life on the earth in order to accomplish a deed are now actively experienced.

Farming

working with the local farmer through one entire harvest cycle makes children aware of the efforts and time that is involved. It creates a sense of reverence for food and the community of farmers.

English

Introducing Grammar:

In what is expressed by nouns we are made aware of our independence as individual human beings. We separate ourselves off from the world outside when we learn to name things by nouns…when we describe something with an adjective an entirely different element comes into play. By saying the chair is blue, I am expressing something that links me with the chair. The characteristics I perceive unites me with the chair… when I use a verb …I not only unite with the entity about whom I am using the verb, but I also do with my ego the activity he is doing with his physical body’.

-Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner’s ideas about working with grammar are entirely different from conventional ideas. The teachers are advised to develop a sense for the different parts of speech and how they bring into language natural feelings into play. At first reading it is complex – and difficult to grasp – as with all else! A close observation of our natural speech, children’s natural speech brings to life his thoughts. There are bees buzzing round flowers – One child says – “Look, busy, busy bee”, and for another it’s just a bee! Yet another child exclaims “It is drinking all the nectar!” – does such use of language build a picture of the child itself? In a Waldorf School where learning is a constant breathing in and breathing out of lessons, where we help the children to connect and separate, the journey with grammar can add a whole new dimension to grasping the world. We introduce the Noun, adjective and verb to begin with.

Punctuations are introduced – since we view literacy as an ability to translate inner feelings and thoughts into an outer form, the focus is on ‘feeling’ the beginning and the end of a sentence, its mood which in turn determines the right punctuation.

Speech (English)

  • From the chorus recitation move to pairs and individual recitation.
  • Perform in short plays.
  • Recall complex stories and events.
  • Know by hearing and speech the start and end of sentences.
  • Nature of a sentence – statement/question/ exclamation/ command.
  • Sensing nouns, adjectives- adverbs and verbs.

Writing

  • Write in well-formed cursive script.
  • Build own texts within a given context.
  • Regular spelling work with longer words, phonetic as well as words without phonetic correspondence (sight words)
  • Learns the use of Capitals, full stops and question/ exclamation marks.
  • Recognize and characterize the basic parts of speech.

Reading

  • Continue reading from main lesson books, in groups, individual reading.
  • Simple stories to be read as extra work.
  • Reading with a greater consciousness about the nature of a sentence.

Mathematics

One of the new themes introduced in grade three is that of measurement – with activities like building and framing a natural need to measure arises. Thus the activity is rid of the abstractness of mathematical calculation and becomes an integral part of life. Children learn to work with linear measures, weights, time, money and capacity.

Ancient India measures like bhigha, measures using the body like flowers vendors measuring the length of strewn flowers still using cubit are brought to their consciousness vividly.

  • Measurements – leading up to simple sums in linear measurements and weight.
  • Further work with the 4 processes – in longer mental sums where all processes are involved.
  • Recognize and analyze numbers up to 1000.

Use place value up to 4 places

  • Vertical sums involving each operation.
  • Tables up to 12 learnt – both group and individual.
  • Know patterns in tables like 5, 10, 11 etc.

Craft

Craft is a character building exercise and hence it not at all a fringe activity but the very essence in the learning programme for young children. In Grade three children start crocheting thus establishing one hand dominance. Crochet introduces them to the world around them. The child in true terms starts to explore his external environment. Children make beautiful and useful things like scarves, flute covers, tea coasters, mini-pouches and so on… Each child is allowed to choose his own color; even for his first small piece this encourages a personal relationship with colors. In these first years the children are taught that everything they make must be not only pleasing to the eye, but perfectly adapted to its use.

Music

Singing continues in unison with the content closely connected to the main lesson and other songs related to nature imagery, festivals etc. Playing simple tunes on flute. Music is the strongest element which engages the soul forces and hence is a very important part of human life.

Painting

  • Using the theme of Creation to explore the polarity of light and darkness.
  • Mixing colours to get green, orange and violet.
  • Techniques of intensification and making a colour lighter, gradation of shades.

Form Drawing

  • Work with free forms – discovering a corresponding shape to a given form.
  • Exercises that lead to imaginative work with spaces within or outside a given form.
  • Complicated symmetry work involving the horizontal, diagonal axes and crossing the midline.

Second Languages:

The Indian Languages have their origin in Sanskrit, a divine language not because it is the language of Gods but because of its high precision and wisdom. It has direct impact on the physiology of children. Speech is the formative force in young children and hence speaking well in Indian languages is an essential for healthy development of children.

Hindi and Marathi continue to be woven with the main theme of the year, creation myths, Ramayana, professions, grammar which is brought to children to songs, stories and games.

Sanskrit is done as a spoken language once a week.

Adapted from Abhaya – The school Curriculum