Class 3 is often called the turning point of childhood, the “Rubicon” year. Around the age of 9, the child begins to move away from childhood dreaminess and waken to independent thought. Now an experience arises of the self as something independent of everything else. In so doing, they can begin to question all that was previously taken for granted. This can bring both feelings of loneliness or joy in solitude. Now the child may suddenly feel very insecure; their relationship with Nature, with Eternity, with Others, with Themselves has to be re-established.
They become capable of more sustained interest in an animal or a plant and this should be encouraged as much as possible; it lays the foundations for active caring about our planet.
The Main Lesson
Main lesson is a uniquely immersive, thematic and interdisciplinary academic lesson led by the class teacher. Main lesson subjects are studied in “blocks” of time from three to four weeks. At the end of a “block” of study, the subject rotates so that the block functions as a magnifying glass on a given subject over a period of time. This pattern of rotating main lesson blocks continues throughout the year.
The class teacher guides the learning of the main lesson content through a variety of activities that allow time for in-depth study and absorption of the material.
During the main lesson each child will create a guided written and artistic record of the content in a bound book, called the “main lesson book,” that can be used for future reference and is forever treasured by the children.
The main lesson bookwork itself constitutes a robust learning experience. In scholarly fashion, teachers and students work with original source materials instead of textbooks. Students learn to think and express themselves in a multitude of ways. They gradually learn time management, reflection, comprehension, synthesis, critical thinking, and disciplined recall.
Academic subjects that are not the focus of the main lesson block are maintained through study during the instruction periods that follow the main lesson. Instruction is always ongoing in reading, writing and mathematics.
Some of the main lessons in Class 3 include:
Numeracy: Measurement of length is introduced by means of feet, cubits and hand spans. They learn about formal units of time, often through the Hebrew mythology main lesson.
Handwork: Original designs are made which produce a colourful design that is executed in cross stitches. The result is a beautiful wholeness from the many little crossings.
Farming and Building: Children learn basic survival skills such as building basic a shelter or growing their own food through farming. This fosters a feeling that they can survive in the world and can build confidence; supporting this stage of development of childhood.
Grammar: They develop an awareness of the qualitative difference between words that are ‘naming’, those that are ‘doing’ and those that are describing.