One of the themes of the third grade in a Waldorf school is the awakening of the child’s experience to the feeling of being separate from the world in which they live, a realization that he or she is becoming his or her own person. It is a profound change in the way they view and interact with the world and others. It is often termed “the nine year change.”
However, with this positive realization of self identity comes the challenge of potentially feeling isolated and alone in the world, even helpless. To help counteract this, the third grade curriculum mirrors and anticipates these inner changes of the child through offering as part of the curriculum various practical arts and the story of the Hebrew People. The story of the Hebrew people is one of a people searching and struggling to fulfill their destiny in the world, not unlike these newly awakening third graders. The confidence gained by learning how food is grown, shelters are made, and clothing is woven serve to aid the children in their feeling ready to meet and explore the world in a new way.
Recently, this year’s third grade went on a series of field trips. We visited a glassblower’s studio in Waterbury, a blacksmith in Plainfield, and a pottery shop in Wolcott. We also toured a house under construction and the seed saving warehouse of High Mowing Seeds. Each of these field trips displayed to the children not only a trade, craft and occupation, displaying how things are made in the world, but individuals who have become their own bosses and transformed their passions into jobs that make the world a better and more beautiful place.
Upon returning to the classroom, the third grade had much to discuss. We transformed these discussions about the crafts and craftspeople that we visited into written words; we learned to craft paragraphs. We also drew pictures and wrote thank you cards to all of our hosts. It was a wonderful experience that I hope none of them will too soon forget! Please see our work on the bulletin board in the grades building.
~ Third Grade Teacher Rob Brown