The children, by now, are moving quickly into the first large crisis of a human life – puberty. Crisis here, again, is meant in the most positive sense possible and helping children to move through the puberty crisis is one of the most important tasks of school. Without a healthy puberty crisis, adulthood can be a difficult challenge. The overall themes suggested by Dr. Steiner for this grade are: Explorers, Adventurers, Scientists. The Renaissance was a time in history when human beings fully discovered the power of their thinking and out of that the strength and courage to question establishments such as the Catholic Church. Galileo Galilei and Martin Luther are important figures in Grade 7. This is because the student is now able to realize that through her/his own thinking, she/he can discover and invent, understand and explain many of the phenomena that she/he is involved in or subject to in every day life. Again, cultures around the world at this time in history are studied, so that the student gains a well-rounded picture.
We study stories about people who relied on their own observational capabilities, who were true scientists and who realized that through their clear thinking, they could come to conclusions that were vastly different to those put forth even by the mightiest of establishments. An example: Galileo Galilei.
Now that the students are feeling the new heaviness of their physicality, the changes in their skin and in their feeling life, it is critical to help them keep a strong and healthy relationship to their thoughts and ideas. The latent and not yet conscious question is: As I move away from my parents, from my hereditary stream and into my own individual story, how can I be sure that I can rely on myself? Helping the students become more and more aware of their own thinking and how they think is very important.
Giving the children the opportunity to use their – by this time rich and differentiated – vocabulary in poetry and prose, helps them to express who they are in the best possible way. They will have learned in the grammar blocks and in the language arts blocks that what words we choose, what expressions we use, our tone of voice and the beauty of how our language shows who we are.
Poetry becomes very important at this age. Love is an incredibly important theme. The students will have heard many stories of men and women who have loved and will have been able to glean many wisdoms from the stories. Now, it becomes important to speak more overtly about love. The sexual aspect of love is becoming more and more apparent to the students and they need support in dealing with this new range of feelings.
Literature of all kinds, conversations about love, poetry that speak of love, painful and joyous love – all of this and of course, explicit conversations about the implications of sexual love, is critical at this age.
It is essential that the students can speak in a protected and intimate environment with teachers they have known for a long time. They will have been with their classmates for quite a long time, too. This gives an added sense of safety if such conversations are led and held in a caring and careful way.
The language arts blocks deal with creative writing of all kinds, while the grammar blocks focus more on style questions and more subtle grammatical nuances.
Ratios and proportions are introduced. Compound interest is practiced. Work is continued in geometry. Algebra is introduced and practiced.
The European Renaissance and cultural developments of this time around the globe are studied. Developments in the field of astronomy are examined and how sailors navigated using their knowledge of the stars.
Work on studying the other continents of Africa, Australia, Asia and Europe is started.
The students are introduced to the idea that everything is made up of something. They begin to explore how substances affect each other and cause changes to come about. Experiments are carried out, the students observe, note what they observe and learn how to draw conclusions from what they observe. They learn that doing an experiment once does not allow for a conclusion. They see how important it is to work exactly, to observe exactly, to be as objective as possible and to note exactly.
This not only gives them an excellent introduction to the world of chemistry but also gives them a format by which to observe and conclude about their own inner life and the inner life of others. Patience, objectivity, passionate interest and the ability to be connected to what one is observing – these abilities are not only good in chemistry classes but also in life in general.
The work in physics is deepened with themes such as mechanics. How do I move something that is much bigger than myself? How do I find out why something is the way it is? How does gravity work? Who was Newton and Copernicus? Why did Galileo Galilei recant? The students learn about the work of scientists from around the globe who were working at this time. How can I be sure? Can I ever be sure? Does it matter that I can never be sure? How do I live with questions and not always have an answer? Is it good to have an answer? The students are helped to be aware of these questions through the study of people who have struggled with similar inner dilemmas.
The study of the body and what it needs to be healthy is a part of the preparation for a conscious relationship to one’s body – one based in knowledge of how the body functions.