RI.4 4-6: Until Reason Awakens, Reality Can Wait (#288)


A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 288

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.

The next series of posts will focus on Grade 4 Common Core English Language Arts Standards. Math By Hand integrates language arts with math, and though the Waldorf curriculum is taught in blocks, none of the subjects are really taught in isolation. Integration is key, and the ambient standards posted here will reflect that. The Common Core language arts standards are listed here in blue, followed by ambient language arts suggestions.

Craft and Structure:
Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.

Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.

This begs the question: how much reality is too much reality for your 10 year old?  Piaget, Steiner, and many other child development experts cite the years until puberty as pre-logical, pre-reason.  If the tools of logic and reason are not yet accessible, why burden 10 year olds with information they are not prepared to handle?  Norse Mythology is the staple literature for the Waldorf fourth grader, for good reason.

We are living in an age that is all but devoid of myth, so that in effect our daily measure of reality is akin to metal against metal, with nothing to mitigate its harshness.  Be that as it may, shouldn’t it behoove us to give our children a measure of what we lack?  To provide a respite before growing up that steeps them in the graces of what we once revered?

If indeed, children’s mental and physiological development is as most experts say it is, then we need to put the brakes on too early exposure to inappropriate material.  That said, the Waldorf curriculum can nicely meet all of the above standards, in a developmentally appropriate way.

The “meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area” is well covered with subjects like local geography and zoology.  Academics are deepened through the grades while remaining couched in the arts, and in fact are more rigorous and technically advanced than those without an arts-based approach.

The latter two standards are covered by the wonderfully complex and dramatic Norse mythology.  All of the elements described in standard 5 are taken in through these stories, though they are not yet abstractly perceived and/or processed.  The dialogue among and between the Norse Gods and Goddesses afford many opportunities to discern or compare and contrast firsthand or secondhand accounts of the same event or topic, and/or describe the differences in focus.  Here’s an account of Iduna and her apples from waldorftoday.com.

Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal. Tune in tomorrow as we continue to explore ambient counterparts to the CCSS language arts standards.

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