By sixth grade, the methods of teaching change significantly to address new conceptual capacities that are awakening in children as they approach adolescence. The challenge of the three upper grades is particularly intense because of the increasing complexity of both the Waldorf curriculum and the students’ needs. At this time the teacher is encouraged to review his or her goals, expectations, and standards to meet the newly, and often chaotically, emerging individuality of the pre-adolescent. The teacher emphasizes ways to nurture the child’s rising capacities for independent thinking and moral-ethical responsibility.
The seventh grade challenges the student with a demanding and stimulating curriculum. One of the critical components is the understanding of the emergence of modern consciousness and scientific thought at the time of the Renaissance. For the students, it is a time of adventure. They learn about voyages to unknown lands, discover the substances of our earth, and observe the heavens. Plus, there is the challenge of trying to draw something that really looks like what they see.
In the eighth grade study of the American, French, and Industrial Revolutions, students meet an outer reflection of their inner struggles and upheavals. Studies in science and mathematics are fundamental to developing objectivity and rigor in thinking during this stage. In meteorology, the student experiences how weather phenomena can change quickly from calm to stormy just as quickly as an adolescent can shift moods. The study of drama and other arts provides opportunities for the young person to express his/her awakening feelings.