The Waldorf Fifth Grade

 
Ancient history in the fifth grade starts with the beginning of civilized humanity in ancient India, where human beings were dreamers. The ancient Persian culture that followed this Indian culture felt the impulse to transform the earth, till the soil, and domesticate animals while the great cultures of Mesopotamia reveal the origins of written language.

Every means is used to give the children a vivid impression of these ancient cultures. They read translations of poetry, study hieroglyphic symbols of the Egyptians, sample arts and crafts of the various ancient peoples, trying their hands at similar creations. History is here an education of the children’s feelings rather than of their memory for facts and figures, for it requires inner mobility to enter sympathetically into these ancient states of being so different from our own.

A study of American geography emphasizes contrast. Every consideration of the earth’s physical features is linked with a study of the way human life has been lived in the region – the human uses made of natural resources, the industry and produce. As a continuation of their study of the living earth, the fifth graders begin botany, the study of the plant world. Building on the years of form drawing, freehand geometry is introduced. Fractions and decimals continue to be the chief concern of arithmetic study. Regular choral singing is practiced in fifth grade and the students come together with other grades to become an orchestra.

In handwork, knitting returns, but now the students use four needles as they create socks or mittens. Foreign languages, painting, and sports and games also continue. Woodworking and clay modeling are additional aspects of the crafts curriculum offered.

The fifth grade students train for an inter-school Greek Pentathlon, where grace, beauty, form, and sportsmanship are lauded along with individual achievements of speed and accuracy.

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