Students study Main Lessons for the first one and a half hours of the day, four days a week. These Main Lessons, covering English, Mathematics, History, Geography and Science, are held in blocks of three to four weeks. This allows the students time to deeply engage with each subject. Year 10 has, additionally, a Main Lesson in Art History and in Design & Technology.
As the students are poised on the threshold of the adult world and are beginning to see themselves as both individuals and world citizens they can be expected to gradually take up social responsibilities with their practice starting in the context of the class community.
In Year Seven, the students reach 13 years of age, and become teenagers. There is still accelerated growth in the limbs, and an associated awkwardness in movement. Sexual identity and capacity becomes established in advance of psychological development, and the students may become very conscious or self-conscious about their bodies. Sporadic bursts of energy and willingness to engage in physical activity vie with periods of lethargy.
Rudolf Steiner described this stage as the development of ‘earth’ maturity, meaning that the students now fully engage with the wider outer world, while developing personal, individualised judgements about the truth. Students are encouraged to take initiatives and to challenge attitudes and knowledge which they formerly accepted on authority and in this way to formulate their own point of view. In the striving for individuality, students are encouraged to accept that others see the world differently.
This period of inner development resonates with key themes of the chapter in world history of the great voyages of discovery and the renewal of culture that took place during the Renaissance. Teachers support students to discover new perspectives that direct their attention towards the exploration of the outer world and away from the newly experienced unrest in their inner life. Students are given many opportunities for active learning and group interaction.
Given the fluctuating mood swings of students of this age it is appropriate to study the influence of mood on writing styles and to extend the investigation to include a study of poetics and metrics in general. The ‘Wish, Wonder and Surprise’ Main Lesson effectively meets these learning objectives. As the inner quest of students is taken up through their participation in outer adventures, the Arthurian legends of knightly exploits provide students with literary content that is particularly suitable for this age group.
There is a continued need for the presentation of clear concepts grounded in practical applications in the outer world. Once the students display solid foundations in the logic, form and structure of Mathematics, they may be led towards increasingly intellectual and abstract concepts. Algebra develops out of the practical use of formulae, and students begin to discover its power as a method of describing problems, patterns and forms.
The introduction of Algebra represents a major conceptual leap for the students. While the concrete, logical rules and processes bring the children very much into their thinking realm, their new-found logical reasoning skills are applied to the representation of the concrete with the abstract. The rules and processes of Algebra are developed out of working with simple formulae and the use of pronumerals, brackets and negative numbers in equations as a technique for solving practical problems. During this topic, the aims are to engender in the students an appreciation of how general rules of arithmetic become clear through algebra, and to enable them to grasp the principle of balance in an equation.
The study of the Medieval period brings students experiences that touch both their intellectual and feeling life. The Medieval age, characterised by the movement and chaos that precedes the manifestation of a new impulse, mirrors the period of uncertainty experienced by the child in early adolescence. The students investigate the outcomes of the disorder that followed the fall of Rome. They study the rise of feudalism and its positive and negative contributions to people’s lives. They learn about knighthood with its banner of chivalry and honour and they study the crusades from both Christian and Muslim viewpoints. In learning about the journeys and encounters of the Crusaders the students develop an awareness of the scientific and cultural impulses brought to Europe from the world of Islam. They learn of the subsequent developments in science, trade, communication, travel, art and banking that led to the dawn of a new age. Students will have opportunities to reflect on the lasting legacy of the middle ages evident in the governance, language and culture of the 21st century.
The students develop an appreciation of the complexities of societies- then and now. The multi-perspectival approach encourages the development of empathy, a quality essential to the practice of tolerance. Reflections of the knighthood, its code of honour, the study of lives of figures such as St Francis and Joan of Arc give students examples of human greatness and moral strength.
Much of the content of Year Seven is concerned with humankind’s different relationship to the environment as the impulse for independence and individualisation begins to grow in the 13 year old. Geography is now closely linked to history and the Medieval age, a time in which human beings shared this characteristic. Under a feudal society, deeply rooted in Church authority, lives and agricultural activity were determined by the seasons and the festivals of the year. The village was the extent of their known world. The Year Seven child stands at the threshold between remaining where they are and leaving behind the ‘known’ to journey to ‘new landscapes’.
The Crusades, and the ability of Knights, explorers and navigators to journey away from their home landscape and expand boundaries and borders to discover and conquer ‘terra incognita’, captivate thirteen year olds. With the journeys, human consciousness expanded, and new knowledge arose.
Students continue to form strong connections to information through their feelings. The quality of imagination is still an important ingredient in their reception of intellectual material.
Sourced from Australian Steiner Curriculum Framework
As the critical faculties of students sharpen, the world of ideas acquires new meaning and rules come under scrutiny.
In Year 8, the students reach 14 years of age, a significant point in the transition from childhood to adolescence. The physical and psychological changes of adolescence are well under way. They are often awkward in their own bodies and have some times lost the gracefulness of childhood. Acne, ‘gangliness’, clumsiness and a new vulnerable awareness of their feeling and thought life are some of the characteristics of the adolescent. Growth in height and sexual development is established and noticeable in the boys’ breaking voices and the onset of physical maturation and menstruation in the girls.
The Main Lesson study includes an overview of the development of language from song to speech to the written word. Students explore the way in which the qualitative nuances of the sounds of vowels and consonants and the varied rhythms of language usage influence the potential power of the ‘living word.’ They investigate the use of persuasive language in propaganda, speech making, advertising and other forms of mass media and consider the influence of different styles and forms of writing and speaking on the way we communicate with each other. Students are given opportunities to enjoy language, to be creative and to play with words. Letters as a genre are fairly brief texts that are written in a wide variety of styles and the study of their form and content therefore offers students an encompassing theme and an appropriate means to explore and practise writing different text types. A familiarity with the conventions of various types of letters enables students to use this method of communication, formally and informally, with confidence. By studying letters of historical and literary significance, students gain an appreciation of the potential of letters to convey thoughts and feelings with clarity and eloquence.
We seek to bring to the students both a Mathematical understanding and inner experiences in their relation to the world of cyclical change and rhythm. At a time where they are in danger of losing a reverent picture of the dynamic cosmos that they inhabit, the content of this topic serves to renew their sense of wonder at being part of something far larger and more meaningful than they perhaps realise. In addition, it is intended that students appreciate the fact that Mathematics has its own intrinsic value and beauty, and that they enjoy experiencing the elegance and diverse applications of the subject.
The middle school years are an important period of learning, in which the foundations of knowledge of many fundamental disciplines are established. Algebra is a significant Mathematical tool that finds application in the further study of Mathematics, but also appears in the Sciences, Engineering, Technology and Economics, amongst others. A thorough grounding in Algebra is indispensible in many tertiary courses, and provides skills that create a pathway towards continued success in further education, training or employment.
With adolescence comes a much greater self consciousness of one’s own body. In this Main Lesson the student has an opportunity to build a relationship with their own body as part of the world around them by making a study of those organs of the human body that clearly incorporate physical law. The body, an area of great subjective interest is studied in a way that relates that subjective interest back to the world objectively but in connection.
This new knowledge of their own body, integrated with the biographies of great human beings with disability, builds a respect and appreciation for the body in relationship to the world- a step in the ownership of their own stance in life. A freer relationship to the body can be an existential help for many problems of puberty.
Although historical studies now centre on more challenging and intellectual themes, opportunities for active learning continue to be an important part of the lessons. Historical studies are integrated with English, Science, Geography and the Arts. Studies may include experiences through excursions, camps and creative and performance arts.
In studying the biographies of individuals who exemplify inspiring qualities or who have struggled with obstacles and failings, students recognise and reflect on human qualities, including their own and on questions of social responsibility. They gain perspectives regarding their own uncertainties, strengths and aspirations. Developing from the narrative style presentation of earlier classes biographical content now includes inner questions of the character. Biographies of living individuals can be included in the lessons. Students are given experiences and opportunities to engage actively, absorb information, become conscious of their own responses to issues and material and become confident and competent in communicating their responses, opinions and feelings.
An independent life of feeling emerges at this age and is often accompanied by emotional turbulence but the changing tides of emotions form part of the developmental pathway.
Sourced from Australian Steiner Curriculum Framework
Students of this age stand at the edge of a new world, wondering how to navigate the seas of excitement and danger and responsibility for themselves and for the world.
A capacity for stringent logic awakens within the Year 9 student. This new power of thinking allows and requires distance from self and others. The students develop a clearer structure to their thinking and are able to make causal deductions. There is a move from judgement based on feeling to judgement based on observation and understanding. The students demonstrate a growing ability to discover the underlying principles behind phenomena by using analytical processes. It is best if they are asked to use their discernment in the field of practical judgement e.g. How things that can be overseen work.
English lessons focus on the technical skills of oral and written argument, debating and discussion styles. Essay writing skills are extended and various writing styles and texts types are explored. Literature content offers examples of catharsis, humour and of tragic and comic heroes who struggle with the dark and light aspects of themselves. The theme of loneliness and existentialism in Australian outback literature resonates with the inner experience of students.
Statistics has become a vital tool in our modern society and students will have increasingly encountered statistical facts and figures in newspapers and other media as their awareness of the world has developed. The concepts of randomness, choice and fairness challenge the students at a time where their developing ability to form judgments is still largely based on emotional response.
Working out of Steiner’s indications for the students of this age group, Algebra brings an experience of the manipulation of abstract concepts regarding number. Beginning with the concrete and practical, the students deal with increasingly complex algebra of polynomials and the solution of simultaneous linear equations in 2 and 3 unknowns, the factorisation of quadratics and surds arising out of squares, triangles and pentagons. The extension of concepts from concrete and perceptible to abstract serves to nourish cognitive processes within the students that allow them to develop confidence in the power of their thinking. This provides students with the impetus to become enterprising individuals, who show initiative, explore ideas, and use their creative abilities to make discoveries about the worlds around and within them.
The capacity for forming judgments is blossoming at this time and should be directed toward world-interrelationships in every field. The world must become so all-engrossing to young people that they simply do not turn their attention away from it long enough to be constantly occupied with themselves. For, as everyone knows, as far as subjective feelings are concerned, pain only becomes greater the more we think about it.
R. Steiner, Education for Adolescents, 1922.
Sourced from Australian Steiner Curriculum Framework
In Year 10, the students reach sixteen years of age. In dealing with their emerging sexuality and particularly for boys, their growing awareness of physical power, sixteen year olds are faced with a threshold experience which presents an opportunity for the healthy development of individuality.
The sixteen year-old yearns to understand the world and to find their sense of purpose within it. The earlier Class 9 search for balance and harmony now begins to bear fruit. The development of greater clarity of thought and an increasing ability to form balanced judgments helps students to extricate themselves from the unstable nature of their emotional lives. There is a greater capacity for reflection, which can lead on the one hand to self consciousness and the pain of growing existential awareness, on the other they become capable of great feats of compassion, endurance, intellectual and physical prowess. The students begin to discover their own inner freedom to determine their pathway through life. Relationships between the sexes form; social relationships can be healthy or get lost in group activities. Self esteem is very important to develop
The ‘Birth of Literature’ Main Lesson provides an overview of the relationship between the development of human consciousness and literary forms. Students are given the opportunity to develop an understanding of the importance of literary expression by tracing the evolutionary growth of the mythological sagas through significant cultural periods. The study includes an exploration of the characteristic features of the heroic style of writing. Inspired by the language-rich context of the epic stories students experiment with writing their own creative versions of the sagas; they discover the important role language plays in bringing their inner imaginative world of experience to expression.
In Year 10 Mathematics, the student’s concept of number beyond the finite is extended. The Mathematical theory for Arithmetic, Geometric and Harmonic Sequences and Series is developed as a logical extension of the basic principles of number patterns. Practical applications of this theory are studied from sources as diverse as art, architecture and music, as well as the natural, built and business worlds.
Students also work to consolidate and strengthen their understanding of Algebra, and discover areas in which Mathematical disciplines which previously appeared separate begin to overlap and merge. Students are also exposed to different number bases and their applications.
Students learn about Trigonometry and its applications to areas as diverse as surveying, mechanics, navigation, engineering, physics, astronomy, mapping, military operations and construction. A thorough picture is presented of the historical significance and development of Trigonometry and Surveying, with emphasis on practical work, applications, mathematical theory and worked examples.
Students now learn to use the periodic table and the reactivity series as a tool to predict the outcome of chemical reactions. They use their understanding of the periodic table to form ions in compound. Students demonstrate their understanding through art and understanding the results of experiments.
Students gain an understanding of the classical physics through a series of stem projects allowing them to work as a team to solve a range of problems while working through the historical development of our understanding energy and power. Students learn about the characters that have shaped our world and where it will lead us in the future.
Geography – The Human Community
This Main Lesson focuses around the student and their place in the world. Students revisit continents and individual countries within, and their diverse cultures. State sovereignty and human rights are explored then a focus study is undertaken on contemporary global issues including the treatment of refugees, child labour and the growth of extremism. This Main Lesson supports the young person to recognise how they can share in the responsibility of caring for the earth, its diverse ecosystems and for other human beings throughout the world. It enables the student to identify appropriate pathways which may inspire and empower them to become aware of the avenues of involvement in bringing about change, and to take responsibility for their personal activity.
Visual Art – Post Modern Art
History – Ancient to Modern
‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know it for the first time.’ T S Eliot
In historical studies the students are now presented with a great sweep of the human journey, from the harnessing fire and stone to the first great, social complex civilisations and the attendant changes in the human relationship with the natural world. The students can discern in developments, the foundations of modern culture and the evolution of human consciousness. ‘How have things come to be as they are?’ Historical studies challenge the students’ growing capacity for analytical thinking and reasoning. The complex patterns of relationships between historical events and their consequences are explored. Students are expected to take responsibility for their work, and to self-evaluate product and process. They are encouraged to discuss, reflect and analyse in the process of exploring the relationship between opinion and thinking and truth. ‘The evolution of human consciousness’ qualitatively reflects the changing consciousness of each individual in the course of his or her own biography.’
Sourced from Australian Steiner Curriculum Framework
In Year 11, the structure of the school day changes as students move into their Preliminary studies before entering the final HSC year. Students select their own subjects, with subject selection dependent on whether the student wants to achieve a final ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Ranking) score upon completion of HSC. The school offers a broad range of subjects in Year 11 and 12 and these may change from time to time, dependent on student interest and the school’s ability to offer the subject (timetabling, staffing etc.).
Note that Year 11 finishes at the end of Term 3 each year, with students moving into Year 12 in Term 4.
There is only one Main Lesson taught in Year 11, the Parzival Main Lesson, with students studying their specific, selected subjects at other times.
Parcival Main Lesson
The Parzival Main Lesson is the final Main Lesson for our High School students. Parzival is a journey into the medieval romance that Dr Rudolf Steiner recommended as a deep study for the 17 year old standing on the cusp of adulthood.
This legend, composed by Wolfram von Eschenbach, is one of those stories that while clothed in the mysterious imagery of the Middle Ages, carries universal messages for our time. It contains images that both nourish the student’s emotions and inspire their minds with wisdom. Parzival is all about growing up and the getting of wisdom: “a good man slowly wise”.
Sourced from Australian Steiner Curriculum Framework
There are a number of pathways for Year 12 students to complete their final year with us. Whilst the majority of students elect to study towards passing their HSC with an ATAR, some students choose to study towards achieving an HSC with no ATAR, some choose to study a combination of VET, TAFE and HSC subject and some students choose to use their final year to create a portfolio of creative work. We offer a broad range of subjects and work, wherever possible, to tailor the study plan to the student’s needs and abilities.
Our Year 12 students are supported in their study by a team of highly skilled and experienced teachers who are able to lead, guide and encourage the students through their final year of study.
Our elective program operates in the afternoons for Years 9 and 10 and allows students the flexibility to both ‘try out’ new subjects and to specialise in areas of passion.
The structure is one session of 60 minutes per day with a selection of 4 of 5 choices each day taken from:
- Visual Arts (drawing, painting. sculpture, ceramics)
- Music (Band Technology, Music Technology, Choir, Orchestra)
- Design & Technology
- Photography & Media
- Sport (Physical Performance, Circus, Surfing)
The underlying purpose of the Outdoor Education and Camping Program is to provide experiences that help students learn about themselves.
Education about the natural environment and sustainability are fundamental components of the Outdoor Education and Camping Program. We believe that students understand how the natural environment has an impact on their daily lives, and in turn, what kind of impact their daily lives have on the environment. We provide students with opportunities to learn about the functioning of natural systems, identify their beliefs and opinions, consider a range of views, and ultimately make informed and responsible decisions.
The Goals and Objectives underling the Outdoor Education and Camping Programs are:
- To introduce each student to a variety of outdoor activities
- To provide instruction in the safe and proper means of participating in these activities
- To help students develop a greater understanding of the natural world
- To provide positive personal growth experiences that help students develop beneficial character traits
- To develop the healthy social unit of the class group.
Below are listed a sample of some of our current camp activities. Please note that these may change from time to time.
Year 7 – Horse Riding and Bushwalking
Students at this age become very focused on the outside world whilst at the same time going through physical and psychological changes which leave them with a certain inner insecurity. As such this camp gives them an opportunity to have their inner self meet the outer world. This age needs firmness and control but also freedom.
The activities on this camp allows for both elements, control and freedom. The riding of a horse requires a firmness and control and the students are given direction in this skill. They are encouraged and educated regarding the need for inner firmness and control and this to be then transposed through their being with the firm handling of their mount. There is a need for mutual respect and cooperation between horse and rider to achieve a common goal. The environment in which the riding takes place gives the students a sense of freedom. The 100’s of acres over which the students ride provide them the opportunity to reconcile control with freedom.
Year 8 – Hike, Row, Climb and Ride Camping Expedition
The Year 8 child is now at the point where the physical and psychological changes which have caused them inner insecurity are starting to stabilise. There is often a see-sawing between seeking solitude and engaging in activities with great intensity. They may experience periods of being very ready to go out and meet the world whilst at other times being uncommunicative and uncertain. The students are in an expansive age, loud and gregarious but with strong group loyalties.
The physical challenges of this camp reflect the developmental stage of the students. The activities allow for solitude whilst others rely on team work. The physical experience is a testing one which is important for students of this developmental age and also include elements of environmental awareness and appreciation. Their fourteenth birthday will mark the threshold between the second and third 7 – year stage. They will leave childhood behind and this camp with its elements of risk, need for team planning and cooperation, and consequences of actions helps prepare them for the new stage and adulthood.
Year 9 – Sailing and Beach Hike
Students at this age have clearly left the second 7 year stage behind and want to be citizens of the modern world with strong feelings of being in the present. At the same time this age also are focused on the physical body and the physical world around them. They are trying to understand what things are all about. Students come into a measure of intellectual ‘power’ and start testing themselves against the world.
This camp is established as an expedition, travelling to new areas and experience different environments. There is increased levels of responsibility with “watches” on the ship as well as plenty of social time, just hanging out and thus opportunities to appreciate others company. This is all completed in the confines of a sailing ship. The confined spaces set their own challenges and this fits well with their desire to test themselves against the world around them whilst also giving much opportunity for the working through their newly found need to oppose.
Year 10 – The Urban Experience: Melbourne
The students are now well established in the third phase of 7 years. Feeling fairly comfortable in themselves they become interested in process, in development, in metamorphosis. Where the Year 9 student needed stability, the year 10 student responds to that which is motion. They are now moving into a point of much greater equilibrium with a newly found desire for balance. They are now much more able to see other points of view.
The urban experience hands over much of the responsibility to the students with specific, real and obvious consequence for actions. A realisation of adulthood and a questioning of the future is woven through the activities of the experience. The tasks are set with desired outcomes however there is little guidance on how to achieve the goals. This allows for team cooperation and building experience through working together towards a common goal. The lack of direction often pushes the students out of their comfort zone and also allows opportunity to appreciate and respect others and their gifts and really notice the environment they find themselves in.
Year 11 – Outback Adventure Carnavon Gorge or Kakadu
The individual components of the “big picture” or the ‘whole’ are now the primary focus of the Year 11 student. They are much more self-aware than in previous years and often subject their own lives to quite rigorous ‘analysis’ which is facilitated by the Main Lesson – Parzival. We aim is to get the students to stand back from themselves for the purpose of objectively reflecting upon their direction in life. The overarching goals are to provide young people the basis on which to develop into free, morally responsible and integrated individuals with the aim of helping young people “go out into the world as free, independent and creative beings”.
This camp experience provides the students with the opportunity to explore the concepts that are pertinent to their developmental stage such as:
- Investigating and
They are exposed to a great variety of experiences which helps to develop their ability to look very closely at the ‘particulars’ in life and how these create a whole.
As a High School offering Rudolf Steiner education we aim to develop students who are creative thinkers, enthusiastic about life and motivated to contribute their gifts to the world, whatever they may be. This is accomplished by nurturing the overall health of students so that they are able to take up their life’s tasks out of their own free will. The Cape Byron Camps and Outdoor Education Program is designed to support this overall goal.