A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”
And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.” Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful.
Grade 3: a favorite time. For me, a home-arts and craftsperson, teaching Grade 3 was heavenly. Although the signature of the 9 year old is an earthly one, in the sense that what Steiner described as the 9 year change is just one of many forays out of the garden and into the world.
Many such transitions occur in the course of growing up, but the first significantly major boundary is crossed now. At every grade level, the curriculum content supports the stage of development. And here in Grade 3, creation stories are told as the archetypal expression of leaving the garden. This banishment so to speak, deeply resonates as a metaphor for the first pass at growing up and leaving childhood behind.
The Waldorf curriculum supports the child as s/he descends the ladder to live on the earth. Alongside grieving of the loss of childhood the gifts of self-sustenance and independence are given. In Grade 3 housebuilding, farming and many beautiful, practical home-arts and crafts accompany the child on this momentous journey.
When I taught a Waldorf Grade 3 class, we began our housebuilding block with an extensive survey of how houses were built in many different times and places. I added each house as we studied them to a progressive chalkboard drawing, and then each child chose which house model s/he would build. The houses were all wonderful and after they were built, a most memorable moment occurred. One of the girls said that she’d had a dream the night the houses were finished that she and all her classmates visited each others’ houses!
Here is an excellent blog post on Waldorf 3rd Grade Housebuilding Projects, from Waldorf (Inspired) Moms. Her son chose to build a Mongolian yurt, and later wrote about it, as shown below. So from the history and cultural overview, to the 3-D experience of building a house, to creating a written and illustrated account, the act of housebuilding is thoroughly experienced, in many different ways.
The Grade 3 year may be the richest one of all because it’s so experiential. As many believe, hands-on experience is the best teacher, and knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal. More Grade 3 tomorrow!