A Closer Look: Literacy, Numeracy & the Sciences

Literacy moves from the pictorial to the conceptual. In Class 1 the child follows mankind’s developmental steps in writing; he masters the symbols of the alphabet in a pictorial way first and relates them to sound. They may emerge from stories/songs/poems and be depicted graphically in paint and dynamically in movement. Words develop, sentences grow. Writing precedes reading and reading foundations are well and deeply embedded.

By Class 6 the student is a strong independent reader of diverse texts, able to research projects and present material in an informative and detailed way, either orally or in written form. He is a confident writer, using paragraphs to shape a story or an opinion, a careful editor able to bring his first draft through to completion independently. He understands the structure of language and uses grammatical forms confidently, his writing is detailed, rich in imagery via simile and metaphor, adjectives, adverbs, etc.; he is a discerning listener, able to question, able to contribute to class conversations and debates.

Literature During the Journey from Class 1 to Class 6 the child has opportunity to savour a treasury of World Literature via cultural epochs that stage by stage resonate with his unfolding inner world.

He will experience most of the following as he journeys from Class 1 to Class 6: Fairytales, Folk tales, Legends, Fables, Stories of the Ancient Hebrews and Egyptians, The Kalevala, Aboriginal myths and legends, Norse myths, Colonial tales, The Ramayana, Sagas of the Greek Gods and Heroes, Aenaeas and Rome, The Arabian Nights, Medieval stories – King Arthur, Robin Hood.

Such stories provide a deep and rich backdrop for much Literacy work each year. World Literature ennobles the mind and nourishes the feeling life. When used as a backdrop for Literacy development they provide meaningful occasions for exercises that expand language skills and the love of language, and that sharpen thinking. These stories too provide a springboard for artistic expression — they touch an inner chord and new artistic capacities may be born through the potency of their images.

Numeracy begins in Class 1 via stories, using discrete natural materials like stones/nuts to bring them alive dramatically, e.g. 8 fine pumpkins on our vine — that’s 2 for us, 4 for Granny and 1 for each of the neighbours. This “oral equation” will be portrayed pictorially at first — you’ll see our house, our garden and 8 fine pumpkins, then 4 in a basket for Granny, 2 in our pantry, etc. All drawn with delight and attention to detail and mathematically sound. All processes are worked similarly.

Counting is rhythmical, stepped out, clapped out. Patterns are found. Later in the year processes will be presented conventionally, in a linear way, e.g. 6 + 4 + 10. Simple problems are solved.

By Class 6 — percentage, discount and interest are consolidated and applied. Time and the 24 hour clock. Length leads into area and perimeter. In the Geometry Main Lesson block the students use instruments to construct geometrical forms and explore the laws therein. This leads to tessellation and nets and curve stitching, and on to platonic solids.

Common fractions and decimals are used in various fields. Problem solving is entered confidently — “thinking tracks” are noted. They’ve become mathematically perceptive, creative, persistent.

The Sciences emerge gradually.

In Class 1 the little child opens out into his environment with wonder as he observes the seasons, the flowers, trees, mountains, nature, animals and birds, insects. Observation is strengthened, foundations for later study are firmly established via the three general Main Lessons called Home Surroundings.

By Class 4 Home Surroundings opens out into Main Lessons in Mapping, Local Geography, Aboriginal Studies, Early Australian History, Botany and Animal Studies.

In Class 6 the field is wide, e.g. World Geography, Weather, Civics, Geology, Astronomy, Physics, History — Rome, Arabic World, Medieval World. Human Biology (Class 5) is completed with Sexual Education via Family Planning.

The students have a broad general knowledge and a deep appreciation and understanding of the world in which they live. They complete a project from these themes — they research well, acknowledge sources, write their own text and present orally and/or in written form.