EXPLORATION AND NEW DISCOVERIES
The seventh grader is on a path of self discovery. Their spirit of inquiry, exploration and questioning are well matched to the curriculum this year as they find kindred spirits in the explorers, discoverers, and reformers. The Renaissance mimics the seventh grader’s respect of boundaries in that the only boundaries to be acknowledged are those boundaries to be crossed! Here they can experience for themselves great figures that were resolved to see for themselves, do for themselves and not trust authority for its own sake. The Age of Exploration ushers the seventh graders into their own self-realizations by revealing individuals who went beyond the limits and created a new perspective for the world. It is a wonderful time for biographies of great explorers and conquerors of the unknown.
Perspective drawing, chemistry, physics and human physiology challenge the students on many levels, holding their interest and offering them the opportunity to continue seeing the world with awe and inspiration. This year is a critical year in which the students should feel that the adults in their lives can maintain their authority and authenticity, while at the same time allowing the seventh graders to bump up against the boundaries and feel their way through a year of their own exploration.
In the Waldorf curriculum, each subject of study is brought by beginning and ending with the human being. In the study of chemistry this year, combustion is no exception. Marjorie Spock (1985) makes this point:
It is not a long step from such a picture [the story of Prometheus] to a study of combustion in the human organism. Combustion is found to be a process whereby substances are digested and changed into other forms. This same digestive process, which in the human body changes the form of the foods one has eaten and releases warmth and energy, can be observed externally in the breaking down of substances by fire. Fire is literally a digester. (p. 101)
Geometrical and perspective drawing is continued in seventh grade, including the study of great artists and their changing perspective in paintings from the Renaissance period. This turning point in the evolution of human consciousness is echoed in the development of the seventh grader.