The Life Sciences
“The whole structure of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum is profoundly ecological.
The teaching method itself, going from the whole to the parts, confirms this and encourages children to keep the widest perspective on their studies at any age. As examples: in the Kindergarten an active awareness of the seasons, in the Middle School a sense of the wisdom revealed by the intricate relationships of plants and animals, in the Upper School an appreciation that analytical thinking and holistic thinking each make their different contribution to our understanding of living processes.”
(Rawson & Richter 2008:165)
Life sciences begin as their own subject in class 4 with the generation of rich experiences of some familiar and unfamiliar animals with diverse qualities as seen in the land and sea. From observation we will study the various qualities of different animal limbs and their adaptation to function, leading on to the human limbs and the opportunities they offer us. The study of plants follows in class 6 with consideration of their relationship with their context (landscape, soil, climate, insect life), as well as their lifecycle from seed to flower and fruit. Children will undertake quiet, accurate observation and gain an appreciation of the transformations of form and metamorphosis of organs. They will cover some of the major plant types and regions of the earth: such as desert, tundra, forest and the progression from pole to equator. Following on from the work in class 4, the children will now study groups of animals in greater detail – birds, carnivores and herbivores. This will continue in class 6 with mammals, reptiles, fish, insects and molluscs, together with in depth study on flowering plants (monocotyledons, cruciferous plants, grasses, unbellifers amongst others). From class 7 the focus turns towards human beings with a practical observation & study of the heart, lungs and circulation, senses, sleep, illnesses, addiction & substance abuse, healing plants, personal health & hygiene. Finally in class 8 their study will continue with the skeletal and muscular systems (considering questions on how bones confront gravity, the mechanics of locomotion and lever systems), the golden mean and the human form, the form and function of the human eye and ear.