Essential Waldorf

Know What. Know How. Know Why.

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The Online
Grade Eight

The Online Grade Eight Conference

Click here to Register for Grade 8

Lecture and Presentation Topics

Participants will receive links to all of these lecture/presentations on the first day of the conference, along with a Password that will enable you to access them for the ten days that you choose. You may listen to or view them in any order and as often as you wish during the 14-day conference period. Topics in
black are audio sessions; topics in teal include video or slideshow sessions. Topics are subject to change.


1. The Eighth Grader
8.1. Rudolf Steiner’s intention to have only seven grades. The importance of the grade in which a teacher joins the class. The teacher as repository and guardian of the class’s etheric forces. The essential nature of the physical body and the adolescent's struggle with it. [17:45]

8.2. The etheric body. Its role in forming the physical body as an instrument of karma. Revolt against the inadequacies of a modern physical body. Anabolic activity and its connection with human heredity. The etheric body and the “Guardian Angel.” [17:05]

8.3 The astral body as the polar opposite of the etheric body. Catabolism, illness, death. Undoing the forces of heredity and asserting the force of personality. Variety, change, insecurity as foundations of the astral body. Important for the teacher not to be swept away by the astrality of the class. The astral body and the Archangel. [21:20]

8.4.. The Ego. Where is the Ego? Ego and personality: their essential differences. The astral “individuality” deception,which also is preparation for the ego. The relationship of angels, archangels, and archai to the higher members of the human being. The Ego and the Archon. The power of the momentary appearance of the ego in the classroom. [17:50]

The Fourfold Human Being (No password required)
a Dynamic Diagram [5:45]

The Fourfold Human Being - Adolescence (No password required)
a Dynamic Diagram [15:20]

2. Working with Parents
8.5. Challenges of parent work in the upper grades. The ever-shrinking parent evening. The difficulty of reaching people by phone, email, or texting. The weakening of the karmic tie with the parents, and the strengthening of the karmic awakening on the part of the children. [23:50]

8.6. The parent evening. Begin and end on time. Make the content interesting - even compelling - so that parents will want to come. They will no longer are coming because of their karmic connection to you, but they now must
want to come out of freedom. Bring humor, and surprise the parents by revealing aspects of your own nature that they don't expect. [20:10]

8.7. Working with fathers. Grades 1 through 5.5: Matriarchal. Grades 6 through 12: Patriarchal. Most of our meeting content and mood is feminine in nature, and that must change in the upper grades. Fathers can help bring the “outer world” to the students. [21:50]

8.8. The four umbilical cords, an essential key to understanding the grade school years. [19:10]

3. The Teacher’s Path
8.9. The First Pedagogical Law. Steiner’s final lectures on education were directed to the future and to the therapeutic role of the teacher. Understanding the tradition of granting degrees and its relationship to the ancient Mysteries. [22:10]

8.10. Developing the etheric body: the task of the Early Childhood teacher and the primary grades teacher. Developing the astral body: the task of the middle grades teacher. [26:30]

8.11. Developing the Ego; the task of the upper grades and high school teacher. What does the adult educator have to develop? [26:00]

4. Preparation
Note: Before listening to this segment, please download the Grade Eight Block Rotation Guide.
8.12. Challenges
of the eighth grade curriculum and challenges to the eighth grade curriculum. The class play, the class trip, the Eighth Grade Project, and fundraising all distract students, parents, and teachers from the pedagogical experiences that are (after all) the raison d’être of schooling. [24:35]

8.13. Other distractions: recurrent class “discussions” about the same topics as a way of shortening main lesson; endless complaints about special subject teachers as a way of avoiding responsibility for misbehavior, undone homework etc. Don’t let the students decide what will transpire at main lesson time! Blocks and block rotation. [27:00]

8.14. The unique qualities of every eighth grade class should be reflected in the blocks that are taught: there can not be the kind of uniformity found in the earlier grades. Focus on the needs of your particular class, and expect support from your parents, colleagues, and administrators as you put your students front and center. The essential nature of
time in grade eight. [24:40]

8.15. The subjects. Which are essential, and which can be subsumed into other subjects that may be most germane to the class? [15:00]

5. The Subjects


Before you listen to the Lectures, spend some time with our innovative History Timeline . . .
To aid teachers in organizing the wealth of information and events that fill every moment of Grade Eight History blocks, we have created a rich and robust History Timeline. Most of the 200 entries on the Timeline are replete with images and helpful descriptive passages. ThisTimeline places disparate events in a spatial and temporal relationship to one another and allows the teacher to visualize the complexity of the course of events presented in Grade 8. The Timeline may be viewed in 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional mode. A Navigation Guide video will help you take full advantage of this remarkable chronological aid.

. . . And take a visual tour through the History Curriculum with our
European Painting & Sculpture Course.
In addition to the slideshows of student work that are interspersed with the History lectures you will find eight slideshow videos identified as the “European Painting & Sculpture Course.” These five hours of slideshows in video form constitute a gallery of high-resolution reproductions of over 250 art works by masters of the Northern Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque, Enlightenment, and Romantic periods of art and sculpture. Each slideshow comes in two versions. One version is a video of the slideshow, hosted by, with extensive commentary by Eugene Schwartz. This is available to you only during your 14-day conference participation period. The other version consists of PDFs of all of the artworks shown in the videos. There is no commentary, and you can stop and pause slides as you choose. You are welcome to use it through the coming school year. You may want to look at it to strengthen your connection to the artworks on display, and you are welcome to show it to your class -- with your own commentary. Feel free to contact Eugene if you are not sure how to work with the PDFs.

Grade 8 European Painting and Sculpture Course Contents:

The Northern Renaissance
Art work by Jan Van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Albrecht Durer, Matthias Grunewald, and Lucas Cranach the Elder. [45:00]
Click here for the PDF download

Mannerism Part 1
Artistic creations by Correggio and Bronzino. [30:00]
Click here for the PDF download

Mannerism Part 2
Artistic creations by Tintoretto and El Greco [35:00]
Click here for the PDF download

The Baroque Part 1
Artistic creations by Diego Valazquez and Baciccio. [35:00]
Click here for the PDF download

The Baroque Part 2
Artistic creations by Bernini and Rembrandt. [38:00]
Click here for the PDF download

The Enlightenment
Artistic creations by Jacques-Louis David, John Singleton Copley, Stuart Gilbert, and Benjamin West. [45:00]
Click here for the PDF download

The Romantic Age Part 1
Artistic creations by Benjamin West and William Blake. [35:00]
Click here for the PDF download

The Romantic Age Part 2
Artistic creations by Eugene Delacroix, Joseph Mallord Turner, Caspar David Friedrich, and Edward Burne-Jones. [45:00]
Click here for the PDF download

Introduction to History in Grade 8
8.16 History 1: Grade Eight History exemplifies the “high school” qualities inherent in this grade. The class teacher must teach on a near-high-school level, without the frequent breaks that a high school teacher has! Eighth graders are actually more awake than ninth graders and are capable of a much higher level of work. It is essential to integrate a whole range of subjects into the History lessons. The File Folder approach to main lesson block preparation. Summer reading of books beyond your grade level. Try to bring the whole world into your Grade Eight courses.

8.17 History 2: Try to capture the wholeness of the time periods that you teach, e.g., the clothing that people were wearing. How did cuisine change? Only a few minutes a week can give students a sense of the age that they are studying. Inventions. The world of work. The world of war.

8.18 History 3: The importance of works of art to accompany the teaching of history. Yet Grade Eight classrooms typically have very little in the way of prints or reproductions of artworks. The slideshows that are part of this Online Conference will be of great help in this area. Remember to introduce students to the music, poetry, philosophy, even clothing or those times. Emphasize the quality of eighth graders’ work, not its quantity. All their written work should be their own!

The Reformation 1
8.19 The Reformation 1: Christian Humanism. A thumbnail biography of Desiderius Erasmus. Native of the Netherlands. A “cosmopolitan” individual who felt himself at home throughout Europe. He was at home in Time, as well, interested in the Greek and Roman classics, ancient philosophy and medieval philosophy. Viewed Christianity as a philosophy as much as a religion. “In Praise of Folly.” Retranslated the Bible and even commented on it. Significance of the printing press for the dissemination of ideas and knowledge. Respect for the institution of the Church and its foundations.

8:20 The Reformation 2: Christian Humanists were relatively free of the constraints of social class: “public intellectuals.” (Saint) Thomas More. Educated as a lawyer and involved himself with the Court of Henry VIII. The beginning of the role of “civil servant.” The King rules, but he can’t be trusted to actually govern his country; that needed to be professionalized. More was fiercely devoted to his monarch, but even more devoted to the Church, a conflict that was to lead to his execution. The invention of “Utopia.”

8.21 The Reformation 3: Renaissance and Reformation is also a contrast of Northern and Southern Europe. In the north, the consciousness soul turns inward. Significance of the Ottoman Empire for European monarchs and Church leaders. Questions about the structure of the Church, usually concerning the role of the Pope. Complications around the institution of monarchy. The stone and stained glass cathedrals of Northern Europe.

8.22 The Reformation 4: Martin Luther, a child of the new “middle class.” A storm and its ramifications. A prayer and a bargain. Luther and Dr. Faustus. The path to salvation: is it possible to confess all the evil that one has done? Significance of reading the Bible oneself. Good Works or Faith? “Justification by Grace through Faith Alone.” The life-changing journey to Rome.

8.23 The Reformation 5: Luther’s questions about salvation and the Church’s wealth. Pope Leo and the revivification of Rome. The astronomical cost of building St. Peter’s and supporting great Renaissance artists emptied Rome’s coffers. The effectiveness of Indulgences as fundraising instruments. A new type of Indulgence and Tetzel, a new kind of Indulgence salesman.

8.24 The Reformation 6: Tetzel’s miscalculation about Indulgence sales. The role of the printing press. Luther’s response to Tetzel’s claims. All Hallows’ Eve, 1517: The
95 Theses posted and printed for wide distribution. Luther’s fame, Pope Leo’s reaction. The ruse of a debate. 1521: Excommunication and trial by the Imperial Diet in Worms. [19:45]

The Reformation 2
8.25 The Reformation 7: “Here I stand . . . “ Conscience and consciousness. Luther’s German speech to the Emperor. Charles’ fervent opposition. The Code of Safe Conduct. Luther’s abduction. The rapid assimilation of Luther’s teachings and the unprecedented religious revolution they began. [19:30]

8.26 The Reformation 8: Created during his “captivity,” Luther’s translation of the New Testament into German helped to create the modern German language. Iconoclasm and the destruction of Catholic churches. The Peasants’ Revolt. Who would lead the Lutheran churches? The Emperor Charles; the first religious wars within Europe. The Peace of Augsburg. [22:45]

8.27 The Reformation 9: The Counter Reformation. This chapter of European history generally ignored in Waldorf schools. Anti-Catholic bias in the Waldorf movement. “Left” and “Right” wings of spiritual teaching; this is reflected in the missions of Luther and Loyola. The Church’s response to Protestantism. Efforts at reform, but also intensification of conservatism and growth of Papal power. The Inquisition. The division of Europe along religious lines. [20:45]

8.28 The Reformation 10: Ignatius Loyola. “Parallel Lives.” Loyola’s career as a knight ended with a serious battle wound and surgery. The influence of legends of the saints on Loyola’s spiritual strivings. Ascetic devotion and a journey on foot to Jerusalem. Spiritual practices and visions in a cave. At about the same time, Luther and Loyola were having direct, personal experiences of the divine. [19:30]

8.29 The Reformation 11: Loyola’s search for his life’s purpose. Jerusalem. Barcelona. His charismatic preaching. Questions from the Inquisition. Paris. The Spiritual Exercises, a type of ascetic “modern Initiation.” Deep devotion to Church, even as Reformation raged in Europe. Ignored Luther, but strongly opposed to Islam. The Church Militant. Military structure of the Society of Jesus. Powerful and deep influence through educational and political services. “In the world, but not of it.” [21:45]

Grade 8 Student Work in History: The Reformation
The dramatic change in consciousness that characterizes the Reformation is embodied in individuals such as Martin Luther and King Henry VIII. As students experience biographies of increasingly complex human beings they also delight in reproducing their portraits and learn the ways in which the outer form reflects the inner nature of the subject.

History of England 1. Henry II to Henry VIII
8.30 English History 1: Geography of British Isles. Isolated from European continent with all that entails. W.H. Stein’s imagination of England as microcosm of Europe. Celtic and Roman influences. Waves of conquests up until Battle of Hastings. England’s intense relationship with France; Henry II’s establishment of governing institutions; the Plantagenets. The Hundred Years War and the destinies of France and England. The changing face of war. Joan of Arc. [23:45]

8.31 English History 2: Recapitulation of the Hundred Years War. A period of real disruption, mostly for the worse. Chaucer. Instability of the English crown, and a recounting of a century of ascensions and deaths. The rise of the mercantile class. Power struggles between the Yorks and the Lancasters. Shakespeare’s Histories. “The War of the Roses.” The rise of the Tudors. Henry VII. The weakening of the old lineage and bloodline, and the uniting the Lancaster and York streams. [22:30]

8.32 English History 3: King Henry VIII. His childhood and youth were serene by the standards of the time. Henry second in line, so was meant to enter the clergy and so received a real education. A religious sensibility remained throughout his life. Conversant with music, appreciative of the arts; connection with Holbein. Even when he knew that he was to be king, Henry continued his education. The question of marrying his brother’s widow; a critical matter. At age 17 Henry, to universal acclaim and rejoicing, became King. Unsuccessful efforts to bear an heir. Birth of the future Queen Mary. “If it was a girl, by grace of God, the boys will follow.” Concern about the influence of Spain and France on the English throne. [21:15]

8.33 English History 4: Henry VIII, part 2. Royal transitions and optimism on the European continent. Two important young rulers: Francis I of France and Charles I King of Spain, who was elected Emperor of the vast and powerful Holy Roman Empire. Both rulers were staunch Catholics, but quarreled over territorial claims. Henry VIII, like his father, hoped that England could maintain peace through marriages with both kingdoms. Conflict with the powerful Ottoman Empire, which encroached on the Empire. Conquest of Hungary, and the threat to Austria. Ignatius Loyola less concerned about Luther than about the power of Muslims. Hapsburgs versus Valois and the sack of Rome. England was still undeveloped compared to the Continental powers, and played a small role. Thomas More, Cardinal (Thomas) Wolsey, and Thomas Cromwell expanded England’s foreign relationships. A “summit meeting” in France was arranged in which Henry could broker a peace between Francis and Charles. Wolsey made this the spectacular – and very costly – debut of the young King Henry. [27:30]

8.34 English History 5: Henry VIII, part 3. Don’t get caught in the quicksand of Henry’s many marriages, but try to follow the thread that leads to Elizabeth. Catherine’s inability to produce a male heir exacerbated Henry’s fear that he had sinned when he married his brother’s widow. His attraction to Anne Boleyn and hopes for her fecundity led to his harsh mistreatment of Catherine. In spite of Wolsey’s diplomacy, stronger pressure from the Emperor Charles led to the Pope’s refusal to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine. This, in turn, led to Henry’s impetuous but world-historical decision to break with the Pope and become the self-appointed leader of the English Catholic Church. This was not the English Reformation! Henry remained Catholic throughout his reign, but the English Church’s independence from the Papacy opened the door for England to embrace Protestantism. [12:45]

History of England 2. The Church of England & Succession
8.35 English History 6: Henry VIII, part 4. Archbishop Cramner and Thomas Cromwell were Henry’s closest advisors during this period of religious and political transition. Catherine’s internal exile and separation from her 19 year-old daughter Princess Mary. Catherine’s nephew, Emperor Charles, pressured the Pope who in time excommunicated Henry and those who supported him. Thomas More was one of the prominent figures who protested Henry’s Supremacy. Ann Boleyn’s child, Elizabeth, declared illegitimate by Charles, the Pope, and Catholic Europe. Catherine’s death, Henry’s remorse, and Ann’s vitriol. Henry’s now rejected Ann and leveled spurious charges against her, leading to her beheading. Now both Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth were officially declared illegitimate. Henry immediately married Jane Seymour, still hoping for a male heir. Jane Seymour sympathetic to Elizabeth’s plight. The new Act of Succession; Jane Seymour’s hoped-for child would be King. The birth of Edward and the death of Jane Seymour. [17:30]

8.36 English History 7: Henry VII, part 5. Henry’s frustrating, even maddening search for his fourth and fifth wives. Holbein’s fateful portrait of Anne of Cleves and Henry’s shock at her actual visage. Thomas Cromwell’s falling out of favor and execution. Another annulment, and another wife. Infidelity and its consequences. The tragic barrenness of the Tudor line, coupled with the longevity of Henry and Elizabeth. The advent of the Regency of the Archangel Gabriel and the turning point of the mid-sixteenth century. Catherine Parr, Henry’s sixth wife, and her role in reconciling Henry and Elizabeth. By splitting with the Roman Church, Henry finished what Joan of Arc had begun: making England a nation far removed from the European continent, ready to establish its own unique character. [24:00]

8.37 English History 8: The short but still significant reign of Edward VI. The influential Archbishop Cramner had the child-King’s support to bring stronger Protestant currents into the Church of England, including the Book of Common Prayer that replaced the Latin liturgy with and English-language Mass. Edward had little taste for the style of persecution and arbitrary imprisonment and execution favored by his father, and there was less turmoil during his short rulership. Political and religious intrigue nonetheless swirled around his frail throne, and he was persuaded to command that the hapless Lady Jane Grey rule as his successor. Her reign was cut (very) short by Princess Mary, whose supporters quickly installed her as Queen Mary Tudor. A devout Catholic was now England’s ruler. [18:15]

8.38 English History 9: Queen Mary, part 1. Crowned at age 37, Mary was the first woman to rule England for more than nine days. The fears and traumas of the first three decades of her life left Mary physically frail and emotionally scarred. Her marriage to the Spanish Prince Philip, son of Emperor Charles, meant that England now had two rulers and a sudden kinship with Catholic Spain. Philip’s 13-month long “reign” generally fostered Mary’s better qualities and also brought reconciliation with her half-sister Elizabeth. Mary’s apparent pregnancy. The return of Cardinal Pole from Europe and the departure of Philip to the Low Countries elicited another side of Mary’s nature. [21:30]

8.39 English History 10: Queen Mary, part 2. Under the influence of Cardinal Pole, and in increasing fear of uprisings among the nobility and commoners, Mary approved of ever-more extreme measures to combat heretics and nascent Protestants. During her reign at least 300 “heretics” were burned at the stake and hundreds more left to molder in prisons. Convinced by Philip to help him wage war against France, Mary’s ill-equipped armies lost the war and England lost Calais, its last holding on the European continent. A second false pregnancy exacerbated Mary’s imbalanced emotional state, and her constitution was too weak to withstand a bout of the plague. As she lay dying she sent the Crown Jewels to Princess Elizabeth. [18:30]

History of England 3. Elizabeth the Queen
8.40 English History 11: Elizabeth I, part 1. The challenges of teaching History in Grade 8. Cross-referencing events and historical figures removed in time and space. The Time Line. Overview of Elizabeth’s achievements: religious compromise; stable governance; shrewdness in foreign relations. Elizabeth’s childhood: the revolving door of stepmothers, relationships with Mary and Edward, her remarkable education and abilities. [22:15]

8.41 English History 12: Elizabeth I, part 2. By the end of Henry’s life and throughout the reign of King Edward, both Mary and Elizabeth were received at Court, and both were allowed to live in relative freedom at their own royal residences. Their relationship with one another was chilly, and both lived with uncertainty about whom would succeed their frail brother to the throne were he to die young. Intrigue and manipulation led to the choice of Lady Jane Grey as England’s putative Queen. When Mary overthrew the Protestant Jane Grey and vowed to make England Catholic again, Elizabeth’s status became tenuous and even dangerous at times. Her imprisonment in the Tower of London, and Philip’s intercession on her behalf. [20:30]

8.42 English History 13: Elizabeth I, part 3. Elizabeth’s accession. A conversation with Philip’s emissary. Reformation Redux: the intractable problem of Catholicism versus Protestantism, which lives on through our time. Behind the veil of this conflict, a “third stream” of spirituality was working, of which Elizabeth was probably aware. Sir Walter Raleigh and his circle. Elizabeth’s seemingly ambivalent relationship to the Protestant faith in which she was raised and tutored and the Catholicism to which she was compelled to convert. Hesitancy – Elizabeth’s signature response to most important decisions. Her hope to perpetuate the compromises inherent in the Anglican Church created by her father. The Act of Uniformity, the new Act of Supremacy, and, later, The Thirty-Nine Articles became the foundations of an Anglican Church that persists to this day. [20:30]

8.43 English History 14: Elizabeth I, part 4. Except for Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth’s capacity to not only “break through the glass ceiling” but to remain monarch for decades is unprecedented in Western history. Unlike Eleanor, however, who placed little trust in men, Elizabeth was masterful in cultivating male advisors who devoted their lives to her. Sir William Cecil, her closest advisor and confidante, served her loyally for forty years and helped bring England to a state of financial health envied by all the European powers. Sir Francis Walsingham, her Secretary of State for seventeen years, created history’s first “security network,” a web of spies and informers that insulated Elizabeth from the ceaseless assassination plots fomented throughout her reign. (The word “assassination” was coined by Shakespeare not long after Elizabeth’s death!) [19:00]

8.44 English History 15: Elizabeth I, part 5. Elizabeth the Queen, ca 1568. A look at her grand and elegant court, her love of jewelry and finery, her light-hearted but shrewd flirtations with her own nobles and suitors and, most importantly, with the crowned heads of Europe who hoped to marry her. Elizabeth’s summer “progresses” throughout England, which allowed the common people to see her and allowed her to meet her nobles “face-to-face” and compelled the nobility to spend exorbitant sums entertaining her. Back in London, the Queen’s love of music, revelry, masques, pageants, poetry, and drama opened the door to a vitalization of the English language and fostered some of the greatest poetry and drama ever written. (For more on Shakespeare watch seven lectures from our Online High School course, “History Through Drama.”) [16:45]

History of England 4. Mary Stuart
8.45 English History 16: Elizabeth I, part 6. The star-crossed destiny of Mary Stuart (Mary, Queen of Scots) was to cast a long shadow across the golden light of Elizabeth’s reign in the last third of the sixteenth century. Births and deaths were inextricably bound together in her biography, befitting a Gabrielic age. Her father’s death, shortly after her birth, made her infant Queen of Scots, soon wed to the heir apparent to the French throne. The death of her father-in-law, followed not long after by the death of her husband, made her, still a young adult, Queen of France. Compelled to return to Scotland as its Queen, she encountered great resistance to her Catholic faith from the fervent Protestant leader John Knox, and was hindered in her efforts to cultivate religious tolerance among the Scots. [24:15]

8.46 English History 17: Elizabeth I, part 7. Mary Stuart, searching for a strong male defender, was torn between the dissolute weakness of Darnley, her second husband, and the reckless bravado of Bothwell, her third husband. Charges of infidelity and even murder were propogated by her many opponents and given clerical approval by Knox. After several brushes with death, she escaped from Scotland with her life and - little else – and, once in England, put herself at the mercy of her aunt, Queen Elizabeth. For nineteen years she remained under “house arrest,” while Catholic plots to free her and Protestant efforts to kill her swirled around the various castles to which she was frequently moved. The increasing frequency of plots to assassinate Elizabeth sealed Mary’s fate. [29:15]

8.47 English History 18: Elizabeth I, Part 8. One of the most beloved and romanticized narratives among the tales of Elizabethan England is the story of the privateers, the dashing and dynamic masters of the seas who laid the foundation for England’s future naval dominance. Like everything else having to do with Elizabeth’s reign, the privateers had their darker side, too.
Philip’s patience with the privateer’s sometimes outrageous thievery and Elizabeth’s covert (and often overt) support of their depredations. The delicate “balance of power” was maintained partly through Elizabeth’s flirtations with the Spanish crown, partly by the threat posed to both nations by France, and partly by the presence of Mary Stuart in England, once again a pawn in a deadly match of wills. Although Philip protested the blatantly aggressive behavior on the part of pirates like John Hawkins and Francis Drake, Elizabeth’s “plausible deniability” kept the peace for three decades. [21:45]

8.48 English History 19: Elizabeth I, Part 9. Yet another ramification of Mary Stuart’s death. Philip builds the Armada, the most powerful fleet of ships ever assembled, preparing to invade England and unseat Elizabeth as ruler. Francis Drake acts preemptively to disrupt Spain’s ship building, and Philip begins again, finally sending sailors and infantry to England. The battle is waged, and England’s victory awakens Europe to the importance of naval superiority. As Elizabeth’s reign enters its las phase, England stands poised to be a world power. Elizabeth’s Speech to the Troops at Tilbury, “her finest moment.” [30:00]

William Shakespeare: A Teacher’s Guide
Seven lectures by Eugene Schwartz
These main lessons are excerpted from Eugene’s Online High School Course, “History Through Drama.”
1. Shakespeare’s Life [36:00]
2.Shakespeare’s Histories [27:30]
3. Shakespeare’s Comedies 1 [36:45]
4. Shakespeare’s Comedies 2 [27:45]
5. Shakespeare’s Tragedies 1 [34:00]
6. Shakespeare’s Tragedies 2 [32:45]
7. Shakespeare’s Last Plays [37:30

History of France 1. From Louis XIV to Louis XVI
8.49 French History 1: Louis XIV, Part 1. Louis’s boyhood was deeply affected by the Fronde, a rebellion of noblemen opposed to the strict rule of Louis’ mother and her adviser, Cardinal Mazarin. Neglected by his mother, Louis was poorly educated, underfed, and sometimes dressed in rags. Able to return to Paris at last, he assumed the throne at age 13 but did not truly rule until Mazarin’s death. At that point, the 23 year-old King Louis XIV announced the absolutism of his rule, and commissioned the construction of his court at Versailles as a symbol of the central role he was to play in France. [19:15]

8.50 French History 2: Louis XIV, Part 2. Versailles and life in Louis’ court can throw some light on our celebrity-enamored times! We hear a first-hand rendition of the ritualistic manner in which Louis was awakened each morning and the important role played by etiquette among the courtiers. The interplay of elegance and “the call of nature” in the gilded halls of the palace. The cultivation of the arts and the interplay of hard work and amusement that characterized Louis. The debilitating effect of ceaseless war on the French nation. [26:45]

8.51 French History 3: The Enlightenment, Part 1. Louis XIV’s persecution of French Protestants brought to the fore, once again, the need for Catholics and Protestants to find a middle ground; this was the burning question of the age. Alongside of this polarization, what we would call “Comparative Religion” arose in Europe. Spinoza and the “truth” of the Old Testament. Merchants and scholars, journeying to the Mideast and Asia, questioned the “superiority” of Christianity to other religious creeds, while some philosophers questioned the reality of religion altogether. Appeals to human reason, to the human thinking capacity, to logical understanding of the world, became the hallmark of the late seventeenth to eighteenth centuries’ “Age of Reason,” or Enlightenment. Steiner’s “Philosophy of Freedom” and “Threefold Social Order,” transform Enlightenment impulses to serve spiritual goals. Why teach the Enlightenment? It served as the philosophical/ideological foundation for the French Revolution. Its importance in our time. [18:45]

8.52 French History 4: The Enlightenment, Part 2. The Encyclopedia, assembled by Denis Diderot and 150 scholars. The most comprehensive compilation of knowledge in Western history. “Knowledge is Power.” Once we have enough information we can use our reasoning capacity to make the right decisions about religion, civil government, human interaction. The first justification for “free thinking,” indeed for “freedom” altogether. The Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and the Enlightenment. The Social Contract as a justification for the decline of absolute monarchies. [24:45]

8.53 French History 5: The Revolution, Part 1. The temptation overplay the “storybook” aspects of the roots of the Revolution; the King and Queen are interesting, even sympathetic figures, as are some of those who were to overthrow them, but it is important to awaken eighth graders to some of the political forces that were leading inexorably to the fateful events of 1789. The Three Estates and their economic and social ramifications. The clergy were the First Estate; a fraction of France’s population, they owned 10% of the land, and church tithes provided them with a steady source of income. The Second Estate was the nobility, no more than 5% of the population who owned 30% of the land along with their vast inherited wealth. In spite of their incomes, members of the first two Estates did not pay the
taille, France’s national tax. The Third Estate included the commoners, some rich, many poor, who bore the nation’s tax burden. [21:00]

History of France 2. Estates-General to Revolution
8.54 French History 6: The Revolution, Part 2. The childhoods of the Dauphin and his future bride. Familial concern about young Louis’ sluggishness and lack of interest in royal style and amusements; the lively Maria Antonia of Vienna seemed to be a wonderful complement to him. The frustratingly long wait for an heir. Ascending to the Throne at age 19, Louis XVI felt overwhelmed and insufficiently prepared for the task. Marie consoled herself with endless elaborate expenditures and self-indulgence. [13:30]

8.55 French History 7: The Revolution, Part 3. France in the 1780s – financial growth and growing poverty. Poor harvests and costly bread. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his romanticized imagination of pre-civilized humanity. Benjamin Franklin, Father of the French Revolution? The financial crisis of 1787 and the “gathering of Notables.” The first convocation of the Estates-General since 1614. A short-term solution that led to some unanticipated results. [27:00]

8.56 French History 8: The Revolution, Part 4. The tumultuous meeting of the Estates-General in Versailles. Would it meet as one assembly, which would be advantageous to the Third Estate, or as three separate groups, to the advantage of the clergy and nobility? The Tennis Court Oath, and the King’s vacillating responses. The disastrous plan of Marie-Antoinette and her cohort. The revolt in the cities and the storming of the Bastille. The peasants wreak vengeance on the landowners and the old social structure collapses. The French Revolution has begun. [18:30]

8.57 French History 9: The Revolution, Part 5. The National Assembly, the disorder of its proceedings exceeded only by the turmoil of the hundreds of spectators in its galleries, nevertheless took some giant steps in its first weeks. The rights and privileges of the Second Estate were mostly erased, and the obstructionist federal courts were decommissioned. “The Declaration of the Rights of Man” echoed the American Declaration of Independence but strove to have a more universal application. Louis’s continuing unclarity about his next steps, combined with the “tone deafness” of Marie Antoinette and her circle, led to growing distrust on the part of many commoners as to the Royals’ intentions. Lafayette’s hope for a “constitutional monarchy” began to fade as thousands of poor women – many of them armed – marched from Paris to Versailles to demand flour. The Royal Family’s move to Paris. [17:00]

8.58 French History 10: The Revolution, Part 6. The two years of the Royal Family’s “house arrest” in Paris. There was still a modicum of respect for royalty, and most of the deputies in the National Assembly could envision France as a constitutional monarchy, with the King as a figurehead quietly supporting the goals of the Revolution. The royals made yet another poor decision and arranged to escape their from confinement in the Tuileries, hoping to rendezvous with loyal troops and perhaps spark an invasion by armies of other European kingdoms. They were caught and returned to Paris, and the Jacobin leaders who felt that a living King threatened the Revolution grew in influence. [15:30]

History of France 3. The Reign of Terror to Napoleon
8:59 French History 11: The Revolution, Part 7. Marat, Danton, Robespierre. Marat, a scientist and physician by training, became the great propagandist of the Revolution. His newspaper articles and the “little books” (libelles) that he published brought tidings of the revolutionary spirit to anyone in Paris who could read. Danton, a lawyer by profession, worked powerfully through the spoken word. His eloquence and rhetorical skills, coupled with his charismatic presence and exuberant charm, carried the day in many an Assembly meeting. Robespierre, also a lawyer, kept much more to himself, uninterested in the ceaseless discussions and meetings necessary to form the new government. He kept his counsel until it was time to act. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité – the clarion call of the Revolution, may be seen as the manifestation of the soul forces of Thinking, Feeling, and Willing and their human representatives: Marat, Danton, and Robespierre. [21:30]

8:60 French History 12: The Revolution, Part 8. The revolutionaries’ intense focus on the transformation of the government led to fears that France’s opportunistic enemies would invade. War with Austria was declared, and a new army created almost overnight, filled with commoner volunteers. Their lack of training and poor command result in costly losses, and it seemed certain that Austrian forces would soon reach Paris. The Duke of Brunswick’s unfortunate threat. The slaughter of imprisoned noblemen and women with hordes of fearful and furious Parisians. An unexpected and precipitous French victory led to the retreat of the Austrians, but the King was now fatally compromised. [19:45]

8.61 French History 13: The Revolution’s End. French armies continued their aggressive efforts to “liberate” neighboring lands, and to the surprise of Europe’s professional armies, had one victory after another. The enthusiasm and revolutionary devotion of the French soldiers more than made up for their lack of training, poor equipment, and spotty leadership. On the home front, however, internal conflicts about Convention members was mirrored in rebellions in the provinces and efforts to restore royal perogatives. Robespierre’s time had come. As the de facto leader of the new government he instituted what came to be known as The Reign of Terror, guillotining scores of “enemies” daily, including Marie Antoinette and his ally Danton. Robespierre’s decline was inevitable, and with it came the end of the most fiery phase of the French Revolution. [15:00]

8.62 French History 14: Napoleon, Part 1. Even if you only have the time to present highlights of his tumultuous life, it is important for eighth graders to hear about Napoleon. As the twenty-first century progresses, there will be significant numbers of American youngsters who know little of historical figures like Napoleon, a deficit that gives them fewer benchmarks by which to measure and assess contemporary events. Napoleon’s youth and French military academy training. Love of Rousseau and allegiance to the radical spirit of the Revolution. Opportunities opened for him to distinguish himself militarily in his early twenties. The “liberation” of Italy showcased his strategic and tactical brilliance, but his “victories” involved secret diplomatic compromises. Campaign in Italy; only the battles won were reported to the French. Napoleon appointed First Consul of a new French government. Dreams of Julius Caesar. [21:15]

8.63 French History 15: Napoleon, Part 2. Napoleon crowns himself Emperor, the avatar of a second Roman Empire. Although he worked hard to create new laws and effect long-overdue reforms in France, waging war was still his heart’s desire. He had his share of victories, as well as egregious defeats (at the hands of Admiral Nelson in Trafalgar) but his subjects heard a great deal about the former, and very little of the latter. The disastrous invasion of Russia. A weakened France now faced a more bellicose and aggressive Europe. Napoleon’s abdication, exile, return from exile and The Hundred Days. His second exile and death. The restoration of the French Throne. [21:30]

8.64 French History 16: Postscript. Napoleon’s life is like a microcosm of French history; he is educated in a military academy founded by the King; he assumes his first military command through the help of Jacobins; he becomes the commander of the troops defending the Revolution; he aggrandizes so much power that he returns France to the state of absolute monarchy. The story of the Revolution allows us to witness an historical cycle that ordinarily would take centuries to unfold, and it gives students insight into the often cyclical nature of world events – an insight so needed in our uncertain times. [8:00]

Grade 8 Student Work in History: The French Revolution
From the grandeur of the Court of Louis XIV to the horror of the Reign of Terror, the French Revolution has something to hold the interest of everyone in the eighth grade classroom. Unlike the relatively tame political reform that characterized the American colonies’ dispute with the British, the French Revolution marked a true turning point in world culture. It is one of the most perfect of all subjects to teach in this year. [12:00]

American History 1. Unrest in the Colonies
8.65 American History 1: An Overview of Topics: Native American civilization. The Colonies. Tensions with England and the Revolutionary War. The United States in Nineteenth Century. The Civil War. We begin with a look at Native American migrations and settlements. [20:00]

8.66 American History 2: The Colonies, Part 1. The first colonies; European alliances and rivalries transferred to the New World. The early Spanish settlements in North America brought colonists to Florida and New Mexico. The Dutch East India Company – a corporation! – brought the Dutch to North America and led to the discovery of the Hudson River and the founding of New Amsterdam, later New York. The English came later, but with the King’s support they quickly established footholds in Virginia and lands further south, to Massachusetts and forests and mountains to the north. [19:30]

8.67 American History 3: The Colonies, Part 2. Tobacco, America’s first cash crop. The challenges of producing tobacco in the volume needed for trade with Europe led to the importation of African slaves into Jamestown. An overview of the Thirteen Colonies; predominantly Protestant (except for Catholic Maryland), and often founded as land gifts given by the King or purchased from him. The relatively egalitarian northern colonies and the aristocratic southern colonies. How could these diverse settlements ever unite? [20:30]

8.68 American History 4: The Colonies, Part 3. The conflicts between newcomers and indigenous peoples immortalized – and often celebrated – in the mythologies and epics studied in Grades Five and Six become realities in the colonists’ encounters with Native Americans. Through wars and territorial incursions, through the spread of European diseases, the expanding colonies decimated the Native American population. The rapid growth of slavery through all the colonies led to legal issues and the fateful 1705 Virginia law that defined slavery as “perpetual.” Slave uprisings and their brutal suppression elicited some sympathy for the slaves’ plight, but nothing changed. By the dawn of the nineteenth century the number of remaining Native Americans and the number of slaves in the colonies were about equal. [18:15]

8.69 American History 5: The Colonies, Part 4. The French and Indian Wars. Colonists serving alongside British troops learned the art of warfare and also had an “inside” look at the structure and operational methods of the English army. The Seven Years’ War and France’s surrender in 1763. British dominance in North America. The English King and his government wanted more of a share in the growing industriousness and mercantile successes of the colonists. The impact of the Industrial Revolution transformed England’s economy and whetted its appetite for the resources and growing wealth of the colonies. Restrictions on colonial expansion, restrictions on trade, and a cascade of taxes aroused resistance in the colonies. [22:00]

8.70 American History 6: Death and Taxes. A litany of the new taxes imposed and sometimes retracted by Parliament. Duties and trade restrictions, more direct governance by the British, the growing presence of a redcoat “occupying army,” brought matters to a head in the mid-1770s. Conversations became more animated, protests more vociferous, and actions more violent. Events like the Boston Massacre, potential acts of war in Lexington and Concord, the Boston Tea Party and the closing of Boston Harbor by the British were all prelude to the fateful meeting publication of Thomas Paine’s
Common Sense, whose inflammatory prose inspired even conservative colonists to vote for war. The Declaration of Independence and two of Thomas Jefferson’s original intentions. George Washington and the Continental Army. Ben Franklin, America’s first diplomat. [20:00]

American History 2. The War for Independence
8.71 American History 7: The Revolutionary War Part 1. The colonists were by no means unifed in their attitude towards the War of Independence. About 30% were Loyalists, convinced that the colonies should remain part of the British empire, while those who favored a complete severance from the Crown were also a minority. Most colonists did not believe that war would be conclusive in any way. There was strong sympathy for the British cause among both Native Americans and southern slaves; the royal governor of Virginia enlisted thousands of slaves to fight for the English by promising them freedom. The soldiers of the Continental Army itself were most comfortable fighting in small groups under woodland cover; they did poorly when facing massed British troops with superior training and weaponry. [19:15]

8.72 American History 8: The Revolutionary War Part 2. The war begins. General Howe’s early victory secured New York, a town with ports for British ships and ample supplies and shelter for troops. The news of Washington’s retreat – a hallmark of his military strategy – was mitigated by a Christmas Eve crossing of the Delaware River into New Jersey, where a surprise attack on carousing Hessian mercenaries raised the morale of the Continental Army. Howe’s victory in Philadelphia led to another retreat, this time to Valley Forge. A cold and bitter winter decimated his troops, but only strengthened Washington’s resolve: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The Battles of Saratoga, an important victory for Continental troops in which Benedict Arnold – not yet a traitor! – played a vital role. [17:30]

8.73 American History 9: The Revolutionary War Part 3. War and Peace in the Waldorf curriculum. The character of warfare in the eighteenth century. The British had sound reasons for wearing bright red uniforms, having to do with the nature of European battlefields and the need to be visible throughout the “fog of war.” Even when bright red became a liability in the War of Independence, British certainty that their superiority in numbers, ships, discipline, and supplies would win the war prevented them from changing their tactics. The uniformed soldier and the “irregular” combatant who wore civilian clothes. Colonials, who had to hunt rabbits and raccoons, were superior marksmen to their British counterparts, and they knew how to camouflage themselves and shoot from the woods. [19:15]

8.74 American History 10: The Revolutionary War Part 4. Should guns – even historical weapons -- be a topic in the Waldorf classroom? The “Brown Bess,” the most advanced and “improved” musket of its day, used by both sides in the conflict. The flintlock technology versus the matchlock. How did these guns fire? The ever-present danger or misfiring and exploding and the likelihood of burned skin, deafness, and vision problems from frequent firing. Design problems that made the musket inaccurate were mitigated by immigrant German gunsmiths working with the colonists. The grooved or “rifled” gun barrel made for a much more powerful and accurate musket, soon to be known as the “Kentucky Long Rifle.” This worked best for snipers and gave the colonists a distinct advantage. [15:15]

American History 3. Confederation to Constitution
8.75 American History 11: The Revolutionary War Part 5: For 8.5 years the War for Independence dragged on; the five major battles that took place were overshadowed by hundreds and hundreds of skirmishes that did little to turn the tide. The Battle of Yorktown was won because of the influx of French soldiers and the maneuvers of the French navy. When the British realized that they were fighting two well-equipped armies instead of won, they lost their will to fight. We look at statistics for more insights about the War. [18:30]

8.76: American History 12: Confederation to Constitution, Part 1. It is a minor miracle that the entire War for Independence was conducted by governmental body – the Continental Congress – that was virtually powerless. Although George Washington was given semi-dictatorial powers as leader of the Continental Army, he rarely abused them and respected congressional orders. The “Articles of Confederation,” a wartime effort to create a new model of government, proved ineffective, so by the war’s end Congress arranged for 55 delegates to gather in Philadelphia to forge new laws for the new nation – the Constitutional Convention. It set itself the task of uniting the disparate “states” into a federation in which the “Federal” government was greater than the sum of its parts. [19:00]

8.77: American History 13: Constitution and Amendments, Part 2. The threefold structure of the new government; checks and balances; the bicameral legislative body with two types of elections. The Constitution was approved by a slim margin, and only because of the promise to immediately append the amendments known today as The Bill of Rights. Every issue mentioned in those first ten amendments remains a contentious and fiercely-debated subject down to this day. This is a remarkable document – one of the most important works ever penned – yet it has had only a negligible influence on governmental change throughout the world. Other nations have looked to the
French Revolution as their model. Why? Because the Constitution is a brilliant political document, an exemplary legal document, but it has nothing to say about social issues, e.g. class differences, wealth and poverty, slavery and women’s rights. It speaks to Liberté in political terms, it supports Égalité in legal issues, but draws a blank in matters of Fraternité. We will explore the consequences of this omission when we study the Civil War. [20:00]

Grade 8 Student Work in History: American History
Although relatively tame when compared to the French Revolution, the American Revolution has its share of heroes and villains, near-disasters and triumphs. We will see two interesting student perspectives on the subject. [10:00]

Science & Technology 5. The Industrial Revolution, Part 1
8.93 Science and Technology Part 16: Industrial Revolution Part 1. Warning! In addition to its complexity, as a subject the Industrial Revolution can become very dull to a class of eighth graders. Try to keep it lively – we still live with the consequences of this historical period and we want our students to be conscious of how it developed. While France was preoccupied with a social/political revolution, England was destined to unfold another upheaval. Water, coal, iron. Machinery, power, factories. The six factors collaborated almost seamlessly to create the world of modern Industry. The availability of money was a seventh essential factor, and the British financial and political systems helped to foster what was soon to be called “capitalism.” [17:30]

8.94 Science and Technology Part 17: Industrial Revolution Part 2. Coal and Iron, two of England’s most plentiful resources, had an age-old relationship to one another that took on new life in the eighteenth century. Coal and coke. Iron ore and the smelting and refining processes. New methods enhanced the heating of coal, which in turn accelerated the rate at which impurities could be removed from iron. The powerful effect of cheaper iron. England’s waterways and the canal-building that transformed them into pathways for transporting the heavy loads of coal and iron. [18:30]

8.95 Science and Technology Part 18: The Industrial Revolution Part 3. Cotton, a resource that England did not possess, was nonetheless its most important commodity. As the eighteenth century advanced, England imported ever-greater quantities from its colonies in the West Indies and the American South (later the United States). The British Empire, the British Navy, and British trade laws created a system that was extremely favorable (and profitable) to England, but less so to its colonies. The crafts and artisanal traditions of the English were far less prevelant among the Englishmen who migrated to the American colonies. [20:30]

8.96 Science and Technology Part 19: The Industrial Revolution Part 4. The challenges of processing so much cotton by hand were insuperable, but a progression of inventions from 1730 to 1789 made the cotton textile industry increasingly mechanized. Hargreaves’ Spinning Jenny; Arkwright’s Water Frame; Crompton’s Mule – all of these increased the speed, efficiency, and quality of British textiles. The workers’ fearful responses to the new machines, and the inexorable forward march of new ideas. [18:15]

8.97 Science and Technology Part 20: The Industrial Revolution, Part 5. The steam engine. Newcomen’s “atmospheric engine” relied on changes in air pressure to move a piston which in turn controlled a pump in a coal mine. It was inefficient and wasted fuel, but its coal mine location made that factor negligible. James Watt’s improvements turned the device into a true “steam engine” with greater efficiency and power, but its manufacture required iron parts of exceptional precision. Once in production, however, it was the coup de grace of the Industrial Revolution. [19:00]

Science & Technology 6. The Industrial Revolution, Part 2
8.98 Science and Technology Part 21: The Industrial Revolution, Part 6. Inventors, investors, entrepreneurs, and CFOs – what does it take to succeed in business? The steam engine continued: What hath Watt wrought? The steam locomotive and its ramifications for England, Europe, and the United States. [17:00]

8.99 Science and Technology Part 22: The Industrial Revolution, Part 7. The steam locomotive and its ramifications for England, Europe, and the United States. Developed by blacksmith Richard Trevithick and greatly improved by George Stephenson in 1830, the steam locomotive and the railroad were the most important mode of transport in England and, before too long, all of Europe and beyond. The centrality of the railroad in nineteenth and twentieth century literature. Robert Fulton, inventor (in France) of the first submarine, an invention ahead of its time, returned to New York to develop the first successful steamboat, an invention whose time had come. Over land and sea the steam engine now propelled the creations and commodities of the Industrial Revolution into the future. [31:00]

8.100 Science and Technology Part 23: The Industrial Revolution, Part 8. The factory system and its discontents. The contrast of being employed as an artisan working for a small mill in rural England and employment as a factory worker in an industrial town or city. The alienation of employers from their employees and employees from the good they produced. The harsh conditions of factories and the egregious treatment of child laborers. The Sadler Committee. [23:00]

8.101 Science and Technology Part 24: The Industrial Revolution, Part 9. The idea of the “work day,” the office and the factory as “workplaces,” and the often antagonistic relationship between employer and employee all arose out of the labor conditions of the Industrial Revolution. Fiftful attempts at reform led to a series of parliamentary Acts that reduced the workdays of children and women, but it took decades to make these regulations enforceable. The Great Exhibition of 1851, with its signature Crystal Palace, was the world’s first industrial exhibition. England had reached the apogee of its stature as an Empire and industrial power. [23:30]

Science & Technology 7. The Age of Electricity
8.102 Science and Technology Part 25: The Industrial Revolution, Part 10. Galvani’s accidental activiation of frog’s legs. Volta’s “pile.” Oersted’s accidental discovery of electromagnetism. Sturgeon’s electromagnet. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The increasingly international nature of research and invention in the Industrial Age, particularly in the field of electricity. [20:00]

8.103 Science and Technology Part 26: The Industrial Revolution, Part 11. “Accidents don’t just happen – they are
caused.” Samuel F.B. Morse, a talented American painter inspired by Renaissance masters. A tragedy and his response. A fortuitous meeting on a transatlantic crossing (by steamship) that changed the world. Morse’s inspired notion of simplifying both the method of using an electrical current to convey information and creating the “code” that would simplify the information itself. [23:45]

8.104 Science and Technology Part 27: The Industrial Revolution, Part 12. The transcontinental telegraph line allowed information that previously had taken months to be conveyed from one coast to the other now travelled at the speed of light, almost instantaneously. The first transatlantic cable, though fatally flawed, nonetheless was a remarkable feat of naval cooperation between the United States and Britain, and was a harbinger of underwater cables that were soon to circle the world. The strangeness of wires in the landscape – what should they be called? Segue to the Civil War. [21:45]

The Civil War 1
8.105 The Civil War Part 1. The unique nature of the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In spite of its vastness, there was a quality of unity and shared purpose among its diverse citizens that stood in sharp contrast to the divisions and ceaseless conflicts of the nations of Europe. The enthusiastic adaptation of the steamboat, the railroad, and telegraphy aided America’s expansion and made for rapid and unifying transportation and communication. But one issue that was ignored by the framers of the Constitution recurrently undermined that political union, and that was slavery. By the middle of the nineteenth century the disagreements between the mostly “free” northern states and mostly “slave” southern states were dominating the nation’s political life. [22:15]

8.106 The Civil War Part 2. A survey of events, Congressional Acts, and publications that may be viewed as landmarks on the path to the Presidential election of 1860. [20:45]

8.107 The Civil War Part 3: The 1860 election. Of the four candidates nominated by four political parties, Lincoln, the Republican, was the only one who opposed slavery. As a denizen of a northern and a “western” state, he was an exception to the decades-long tradition of strong southern candidates and he was uninvolved in the strong southern presence in the House and the Senate. He was ridiculed for his ungainliness and self-taught ways, but he won a narrow victory nonetheless. [16:30]

8.108 The Civil War Part 4: Lincoln’s train journey from Springfield, Illinois to his Inauguration in Washington D.C. is something of a prefiguration of his Presidency. Walt Whitman’s impression of the President-elect. A journey that began with adoring crowds and eloquent speeches and ended with an ignominious entry into the nation’s capital. A look at Alan Pinkerton, America’s first security expert and “private eye.” [17:30]

8.109 The Civil War Part 5: By the day of Lincoln’s inauguration, some states had already seceded, formed the Confederate States of America, and chosen Jefferson Davis as their President. The North still hoped for reconciliation, but the South prepared for war. Lincoln’s challenging cabinet and his feckless generals. Fort Sumter and Antietem. [17:45]

The Civil War 2
8.110 The Civil War Part 6: The Battle of Antietem as a prototype of later Civil War Battles and of modern warfare altogether. McClellan’s access to “military intelligence” overcame his caution and led to the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. More powerful and accurate guns – and more portable and battle-ready cameras – changed the face of warfare.
McClellan’s “victory” gave Lincoln the impetus to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which he was to see as the cornerstone of the war – and of his presidency. [20:00]

8.111 The Civil War Part 7: Searching for family members – a poignant result of the Emancipation. The Union Generals Meade and Grant scored important and nearly simultaneous victories in Gettysburg, PA and Vicksburg, the most important city on the Mississippi River. Disappointed by Meade’s reluctance to purse Robert E. Lee and his troops after the Gettysburg battles, Lincoln believed that Ulysses S. Grant was going to be the man to lead the North in overcoming the Confederacy. The Gettysburg Address. Conscription and the ensuing riots. [20:45]

8.112 The Civil War Part 8: The Union and the Confederacy – by the numbers. While the northern states had adopted the ethos and productivity of the Industrial Revolution, the southern states, relying on slave labor, remained an agrarian region, rich from cotton and tobacco and seeing no need to enter the Machine Age. The Union’s strategy relied on sophisticated weaponry, high-speed transport by railroads, and rapid communication via the telegraph. The Confederacy relied on the valor and
espirit de corps of its soldiers and officers. [21:30]

8.113 The Civil War Part 9: The Presidential election of 1864 pitted three other candidates against Lincoln; one was retired General McClellan, a second was Salmon Chase, his former Treasury Secretary, and the third was General John Fremont, a popular explorer and military man. The Confederate leadership planned to continue fighting in hopes that Lincoln would lose the election and be succeeded by a President more sympathetic to the south. Lincoln, confronting opposition from his own party and public outrage at the extravagant spending of his wife Mary on the White House and on herself, was certain that he would lose. But Sherman’s victorious march to Atlanta, GA, showed that Union troops could penetrate deeply into southern territory – and mercilessly destroy it. “War,” Sherman said, “Is Hell.” [14:45]

8.114 The Civil War Part 10: The war comes to an end. General Anderson raises the American flag over Fort Sumter. Grant and Lee, a study in contrasts. Abraham Lincoln’s last day in the White House. A conversation with the new ambassador to Spain. Theater invitations declined. The assassination. “And how is Mr. Lincoln?” [16:00]

Laboratory Science: Physics
With Roberto Trostli

Fluid Mechanics Part One [32:00]

Fluid Mechanics Part Two [33:45]

Aero Mechanics [50:10]

Laboratory Science: Chemistry
With Roberto Trostli

Carbohydrates [52:15]

Fats, Oils, Protein [17:00]

Selected Resources for Chemistry Teaching in Grades 7 & 8
Download the PDF

Roberto Trostli’s new book, Physics the Waldorf Way, is now available.
It contains a wealth of Physics demonstrations and step-by-step advice.
To learn more and to order go to:
For international orders:
Grades 6 – 8
Grade 6:
Grade 7:
Grade 8:

Grade 8 Student Work in Science: Organic Chemistry
The study of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins integrates chemistry with the kingdoms of nature students explored in earlier natural science blocks. The careful descriptions and depictions of chemistry demonstrations sharpens their power of observation and unite artistry and science. [6:10]

Natural Science: Cosmology
8.78 Science & Technology Part 1: The Challenge of Science in Grade 8. In my conversations with Grade Eight class teachers over the past decade, one topic occurs repeatedly: the near-impossibility of getting through all of the eighth grade Science curriculum with their students. How to fit in Physics, Chemistry, Human Anatomy, Meteorology, the technologies of the Industrial Revolution, as well a look back to the astronomical revelations of Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler? This prototype of a new Main Lesson Block called “Science and Technology” is an attempt to integrate the teaching of science while approaching the historical foundations from whence it arose. [15:00]

8.79 Science & Technology Part 2: Nicolaus Copernicus. The importance of the “hidden stream” of Hermeticism (occultism, esotericism) in stimulating a new phase of scientific enquiry. Copernicus (1473 – 1543), born in Poland at the dawning of the consciousness soul, studied in Italy at the time of the High Renaissance where he learned that the classical, Ptolemaic conception of the heavens had been questioned even in ancient times. More of a mathematician than an astronomer, Copernicus utilized “data,” observations made by others, and recognized the flaws of the geocentric conception of the universe. He did not publish his own heliocentric vision until shortly before his death, but once in print it raised hackles throughout Protestant Europe. [24:00]

8.80 Science & Technology Part 3: Tyco Brahe and Johannes Kepler. A Danish nobleman, Brahe convinced his king to give him free reign of an island near Copenhagen. There he built a castle replete with instruments he designed to observe the heavens with greater accuracy than any of his predecessors. He later served as royal mathematician to the Emperor Rudolf in Prague, who, after Brahe’s death, appointed the young Johannes Kepler to that position. Using Brahe’s “database,” Kepler formulated the three laws of planetary motion that further supported Copernicus’ ideas but were no less revolutionary. Kepler harbored a lifelong interest in occult traditions, particularly the geometrical discoveries of ancient Egypt. [22:45]

8.81 Science & Technology Part 4: Galileo, Part 1. Born in Pisa to a cultivated family, Galileo was taught to draw and to paint, to play musical instruments and to savor the artistic and intellectual fruits of the Renaissance. His enthusiastic interest in Euclid led to his University professorships in mathematics and geometry, but his passion was for the science of mechanics. Disputing much of Aristotle’s teachings concerning the laws of movement, by the time he was 30 Galileo laid the foundations of modern physics. “Nothing is scientific unless it can be weighed or measured.” [18:15]

8.82 Science & Technology Part 5: Galileo, Part 2. Having revolutionized the science of physics, Galileo now (literally) set his sights on Astronomy. Getting hold of the newly-invented telescope, he improved it to a degree that its original 3X magnification power was raised to 10X, then 100X, and finally 1000X. Shortly thereafter, he turned his telescope up to the heavens and changed the world. His astounding astronomical discoveries notwithstanding, Galileo faced increasing opposition from Church leaders because he presented his discoveries as evidence of the truth of the Copernican viewpoint. By 1616, the Holy Office prohibited teachings that proposed a heliocentric universe. [20:15]

8.83 Science & Technology Part 6: Galileo, Part 3. Galileo’s efforts to convince leading figures in the Church of the truth of the Copernican view wond over many open-minded churchmen, but made enemies of the most influential figures surrounding the Pope. Pope Urban, though fond of Galileo, declined to confront the forces of the Counter-Reformation, and urged Galileo to be more circumspect. The publication of Galileo’s
Dialogues,” in which he professed neutrality but sarcastically parodied the Church’s viewpoint, led to the Inquisition, which forced Galileo to abjure his convictions. “But it still moves.” Seclusion, blindness, and death. [18:45]

Grade 8 Student Work in History: Copernicus and Galileo
To understand these two titans of the modern scientific worldview, eighth graders must exercise their powers of analysis and critical thinking. And to present what they have learned requires the ability to synthesize a number of subjects in the Waldorf curriculum.

Natural Science: Human Anatomy
8.84 Science & Technology Part 7: Human Anatomy, Part 1. Dissection in ancient Greece. Galen, a Greek physician who taught in the Roman Empire in the Third Century, AD, was the supreme medical authority of medieval and early Renaissance Europe. His anatomical descriptions were the only source available in Catholic Europe. Leonardo filled his notebooks with accurate and lovingly depicted details of human anatomy, but he kept most of these to himself. In the sixteenth century Vesalius arose as the most skilled and prescient anatomist is Europe. [23:45]

8.85 Science & Technology Part 8: Human Anatomy, Part 2. Vesalius became the most respected and eminent anatomist of his time, and published the foundational book on human anatomy,
De humani corporis fabrica – On the Fabric of the Human Body. The task of the Priests in Ancient Egypt and its transformation as medical specialties in modern times. The Priest and the Pharaoh; Vesalius and Charles V. Vesalius’ mysterious journey to the Holy Land; shipwreck and death. [19:15]

8:86 Science & Technology Part 9: Human Anatomy, Part 3. The Eighth Grade Anatomy Lesson. Why did it take so long for humanity to carefully study the skeleton? The consciousness soul’s expansion in Astronomy and contraction into Anatomy. Looking at the whole skeleton: sphere, curve, and straight line. The anatomist’s sense of touch, more essential than the sense of sight. The femur and the stapes. The discovery of the stapes. Drawing and/or sculpting the bones. [20:45]

8.87 Science & Technology Part 10: Human Anatomy, Part 4. Lectures on the teaching about the Eye and Ear are available for participants who didn’t teach the sensory system in Grade Seven. The “Teenage Bone,” a cross-section of the layers of a bone. The interplay of life and death in the bone and its marrow. Calcium and solidity; cartilage and mobility. Hearing and speaking, the ear and the larynx. Anatomy allows for the “vertical” as well as the “horizontal” integration of subjects. Skeletal statistics. Skull, limbic bones, and ribs as images of Thinking, Willing, and Feeling. [25:15]

Grade 8 Student Work in Science: Human Anatomy
The final step in the natural sciences in the grade school brings the student to the mystery of our life on earth: how do we bring our individual spirit into the density of the mineral world? We will view student responses to the mystery, and point to the challenge of bringing both reverence and lightness to this powerfully engaging subject. [25:05]

Science & Technology 3. The Ear and the Eye
If you have not yet taught your class about the Ear and the Eye, here are lectures from the Online Conference for Grade Seven that discuss these sense organs.

7.70: Physiology 9. The ear. A good segue from the lungs to the ear. Or should we begin with the eye? Helen Keller’s words. The auricle, a microcosmic “embryo” that we carry along with us. Its cartilaginous substance never stops growing. The ear and the nose, the ear and the larynx. [17:15]

7:71: Physiology 10. The auditory canal. Its threefold structure: bone, cartilage, skin. Fat and wax. The tympanum and the role of skin in our sensory organs. The interplay of skin, blood, and muscle. The eardrum “turns pale” and “blushes” in relationship to sounds (so watch your language!). The nasopharynx. Breathing and sensory experience. The Renaissance discovery of the ossicles. [17:20]

7.72: Physiology 11. From middle to inner ear. The ossicles as the “rhythmic system” of the ear. The open spiral (auricle) and closed spiral (cochlea). The exoskeleton within us. The filtration and concentration of sound; an “alchemical,” potentizing process. Digestion: the final destination of all that streams into us, in whatever shape or form. [17:40]

7.73: Physiology 12. The eye. A look at a student’s “portrait” of a classmate’s eye. The importance of lashes and lids. Why did Lucifer “open their eyes” at the Fall of Man? Why do we have to keep closing our eyes? The eye as a revelatory organ; brain and blood stand revealed. The inner structure of the eye. The “missing” Hyaloid Artery. The eye as a microcosmic womb. [15:35]

7.74: Physiology 13. A journey into the eye. The rhythmic and metabolic qualities of the eye manifesting in the pupil, the iris, the lens, and the vitreous humor. The eye and its muscles. [16:45]

7.75: Physiology 14. The retina. Rods and cones and their threefold structure. The metabolizing of light. Visual purple and visual yellow. The fovea/macula. Blood and nerve in the eye. The blind spot and the site of focused vision. Center point and periphery, a key to the Waldorf approach to teaching reading. The eye and ear and the Creation stories of the Old and New Testaments. The organ of balance. Why the class teacher, and not a specialist, should teach this block. [21:40]

Natural Science: Meteorology
8.88 Science & Technology Part 11: Francis Bacon. In spite of his noble family, his brilliance and capability as a lawyer and important political figure, Bacon faced many disappointments in his lifetime. A trusted advisor to both Queen Elizabeth and King James, his last years brought disgrace and separation from the London and courtly life. Rudolf Steiner believed that Bacon’s former incarnation prepared him for the task of guiding modern science in a very intellectual and materialistic direction. Bacon’s book Novum Organum and the birth of the “scientific method.” The mysterious and unfinished novel The New Atlantis. [27:00]

8.89 Science & Technology Part 12: Meteorology, Part 1. Weather as the interplay of water and air, speaking to the interplay of the etheric and astral bodies of the eighth grader. The invention of hygrometers, thermometers, barometers: a short history, featuring some of the usual suspects. The quantification of weather begins with the idea that the human being is “the measure of all things,” but gradually moves in a more Baconian, materialistic direction. [25:45]

8.90 Science & Technology Part 13: Meteorology, Part 2. Please teach Meteorology to your students; it is good for their inner development and it essential for anyone living in the twenty-first century. We need an informed and insightful citizenry to navigate all of the issues around global warming. Zaria Forman, a Waldorf graduate whose cloud, ocean, and glacier paintings has led her to the mission of awakening us to the risks inherent in global warming. Cloud observation, the most essential aspect of a Meteorology main lesson block. Luke Howard, the only scientist mentioned in this entire survey of Science and Technology who isn’t a materialist! [18:00]

8.91 Science and Technology Part 14: Meteorology, Part 3. Howard’s classification of clouds. Stratus clouds are weighed down by their connection to gravity, and bring a quality of heaviness when they are dominant in the sky. Cirrus clouds, high in the sky, bring lightness and seem to seek to vaporize. Cumulous clouds effect a balance between the upper and lower atmosphere, and seem to be the “archetype” of what we think of when the word “cloud” is spoken. Modern classifications describe 10 types of clouds, or even 100. [18:15]

8.92 Science and Technology Part 15: Meteorology, Part 4. The movement of warm and cold air in a meadow and forest, from land to sea, and across the globe. Wet air, dry air, and dew point. Humidity and barometric pressure. Tornados over landmasses, typhoons over water, hurricanes disrupting both land and water. Seasonal storms as “pressure release valves.” [9:30]

Grade 8 Student Work in Science: Meteorology
The interplay of the etheric and astral bodies of the Earth becomes an “objective correlative” for the battle of these two bodies within the eighth grader. We see how could observation opens the eyes of the students to the world of being and becoming, while the study of the interplay of water and air echoes their experiences of Fluid Mechanics and Aero Mechanics in Physics. [28:15]


Geography of Russia
8.115 Introduction to Grade 8 Geography: Current Events, a subject we need more than ever in Grade Eight. Use students’ understanding of maps and statistics, terrain and topography, to help them have intelligent discussions about today’s world and its issues. Russia and China are two lands and cultures that contain worlds, and that will continue to figure centrally in world events for the foreseeable future. The challenges of Geography in Grade Eight. [10:45]

8.116 Geography of Russia Part 1: The physical map of Russia. Superlatives and hyperboles that delight the adolescent; polarities and extremes that nourish the eighth grader. Immensity and diversity. Europe and Asia. Mountains and plains. Tundra and sub-tropics. The permeable Urals and the formidable Caucasus. Land and water: The steppe and the rivers. The taiga and the lakes. [21:15]

8.117 Geography of Russia Part 2: The inland seas and the oceans. Siberia. E E Pfeiffer’s thoughts about geography and character. The strong conformist quality of a people who live on great expanses of flat land. The “breathing” quality of their movements, sometimes westward, towards Western Europe, at other times eastwards, towards Siberia and China. [18:00]

8.118 Geography of Russia Part 3: The Western, Southern, and Eastern Slavs. The Polish and Bohemian kingdoms of the West: Roman Catholicism. The Bulgarian Kingdom of the South: The Byzantine Orthodox Church. The “Rus” settlements of the West: Vladimir’s choice. [20:00]

8.119 Geography of Russia Part 4: Vladimir and Yaroslav looked to the Byzantine Empire to serve as a civilizing impulse. The settlements of Kiev and Novgorod grew into cities with churches and civic buildings, laws and culture. By the early thirteenth century, the influences the Swedish Norsemen and the Byzantine Empire had merged into a new Russian character. The invasion of Genghis Kahn and the Mongols in 1222 destroyed much of what had been built up, and left a deep-seated fear of Asia in the hearts of the Russian people. [15:45]

8.120 Geography of Russia Part 5: The Golden Horde. Alexander Nevsky of Novgorod. The river battle with Swedish invaders. Conflicts with the Boyars and Alexander’s exile. The Teutonic Knights. Return from exile. The Battle on the Ice. [19:45]

8.121 Geography of Russia Part 6: Russia’s cultural achievements. Architecture. Icons. Music. Literature. [17:30]

Geography of China
8.122 Geography of China Part 1: Russia, womb of the future; China, guardian of the past. The Yellow River and its environs. The middle Yellow River Valley, once a verdant, forested area, now is relatively bare, its soil dusty loess. To the east and south of this valley, water flows more readily, often channeled into irrigation ditches or linked by canals. The intensive labor on terraced farms and the panoply of aromas magnified by China’s humid air. The presence of people everywhere. [19:30]

8.123 Geography of China Part 2: A Geographical Overview. The Yellow River and the Yangtze, rivers with great deltas that flow into the sea, unlike Russia’s landlocked rivers. The highest point on the earth and one of the very lowest. The great temperature variations from northwestern Harbin to Chaina’s tropical beaches. Deserts and grasslands. [23:15]

8.124 Geography of China Part 3: The Door and the Wall. Chinese architecture is intimately married to the landscape and the environs. The peculiar nature of the Chinese pagoda. The center of gravity that lies outside the building, rather than within. The sacred gates that dot the landscape; a threshold that leads not to an interior space, but rather enhances our experience of the exterior space into which we step. How does a wall that encloses and separates fit into the Chinese world conception? Steiner’s explanation. [20:00]

8.125 Geography of China Part 4: The Great Wall. The fragmentary nature of the earliest stages of the Wall’s construction. In the Third Century BCE the most extensive construction took place, involving at least 300,000 men over ten years. Yet in spite of its “impregnable” reputation, the wall had many gaps and even gates that were not that difficult to enter. The resentment of many who worked on the wall and stood guard upon its ramparts. The legend of Wan and Meng Jiangnu. [17:30]

8.126 Geography of China Part 5: Science and Technology. The Chinese were very often hundreds – sometimes thousands! – of years in advance of their Western counterparts in developing technologies that were to change everyday life or even the course of history. In China itself, these were often playthings, but as they moved into the more materialistic West they took on other qualities as well. [18:45]

8.127 Geography of China Part 6: The Silk Road. Marco Polo and his travels. The advanced civilization of Mongol China under the Khan. Marco’s path to Asia; the Grade Five Ancient Cultures curriculum in reverse. The central role of the merchant in ancient history; philosophies, as well as commodities. [24:00]

8.128 Geography of China Part 7: The invention of bureaucracy. The Chinese alphabet and the education of the child. “Teaching to the test.” How candidates proved themselves qualified to be civil servants in old China. The hidden relationship of China and North America. [19:00]

Geometry & Algebra Review, Quadratic Equations, and Compound Interest
Four Slideshows of Student Work

Homework Part 1
Geometry and Basic Algebra Review. [10:30]

Homework Part 2
Word Problems requiring algebraic solutions. [11:00]

Homework Part 3
Polynomials and their factors. Quadratic equations. [10:15]

Homework Part 4
The Quadratic Formula and an algorithm for computing compound interest. [23:30]

Encounters with Algebra
This is a series of instructional videos created by Eugene Schwartz for the Online Grade Seven Conference. The timetable for introducing Algebra varies from school to school. If you have not yet introduced the subject -- or if you have, but feel that your class will need to review it in Grade Eight -- you may find these videos helpful. [Total of all videos is 2 hours, 45 minutes]

Grade 8 Student Work in Geometry: Part 1
Although often overshadowed by Solid Geometry, the subject of "Geometry in Nature," also known as "Sacred Geometry," provides meaningful experiences for eighth graders. Of particular importance are understanding the Vesica Piscis, the "womb" of all regular polygons, the Golden Proportion ("Phi"), and the Fibonacci Series.

Grade 8 Student Work in Geometry: Part 2
We continue with other aspects of Geometry that can be of value to eighth graders. Spirals are constructed in a circle and also through the tactile and kinesthetic experience of folding long strips of paper using the Fibonacci series as a basis. The “Divine Proportion” of Phi comes to life as eighth graders experience their own proportions.

The Videos

Eighth Grade Moments
After her class teacher lobbied, begged, and threatened his colleagues until they would permit her to bring a camcorder to school, Katie Oscar was able to create a video portraying social highlights of her 8th Grade year. (This was in 2004; by now, most 8th grade classes create a video to be played at their graduation ceremony.) This is a rare look at the Waldorf eighth grader -- seen through the eyes of a Waldorf eighth grader! The high quality of this film gained Katie admission to a competitive summer filmmaking course, and that in turn led to her admission to the Film Department of SUNY Purchase. [15:21]

Waldorf Education for All
This is a documentary about Waldorf charter schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, and among the classrooms filmed are two eighth grades. You will see an American History class being taught by Bob Harrington, a class teacher at the Woodland Star Charter School, as well as a Physics class led by Steve Kinney, a class teacher at the Novato Charter School. They are working with many students who have only had a few years of Waldorf education, and who are most likely not to attend a Waldorf high school. In all other films about Waldorf education, students’ voices are muted out; in this film you hear the students loud and clear. [41:35]

Light in the Darkness
Waldorf schools are famous for their outspoken defense of children from the onslaught of media. But as computers and smart phones, tablets and eBooks become almost inescapable in everyday life, do Waldorf schools run the risk of growing entrenched in their attitude toward a device-filled world? If Waldorf students are encouraged to say “Yes” to the world, should their schools be saying, “No”?
As a Waldorf educator, Eugene Schwartz is convinced that we cannot oppose television, computer games, and social media without deepening our understanding of Rudolf Steiner's teachings about the interwoven destiny of our times and the Middle Ages . As an Apple iOS Developer, Eugene contends that we cannot understand the enigma of today’s child without a broader connection to media technology. Waldorf education, he believes, has the potential to bring breadth and depth to both of these worlds. [49:45]

The Slideshows

Grade 8 Student Work in History: Copernicus and Galileo
To understand these two titans of the modern scientific worldview, eighth graders must exercise their powers of analysis and critical thinking. And to present what they have learned requires the ability to synthesize a number of subjects in the Waldorf curriculum.

Grade 8 Student Work in History: The Reformation
The dramatic change in consciousness that characterizes the Reformation is embodied in individuals such as Martin Luther and King Henry VIII. As students experience biographies of increasingly complex human beings they also delight in reproducing their portraits and learn the ways in which the outer form reflects the inner nature of the subject.

Grade 8 Student Work in History: The French Revolution
From the grandeur of the Court of Louis XIV to the horror of the Reign of Terror, the French Revolution has something to hold the interest of everyone in the eighth grade classroom. Unlike the relatively tame political reform that characterized the American colonies’ dispute with the British, the French Revolution marked a true turning point in world culture. It is one of the most perfect of all subjects to teach in this year. [12:00]

Grade 8 Student Work in History: American History
Although relatively tame when compared to the French Revolution, the American Revolution has its share of heroes and villains, near-disasters and triumphs. We will see two interesting student perspectives on the subject. [10:00]

Grade 8 Student Work in Science: Organic Chemistry
The study of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins integrates chemistry with the kingdoms of nature students explored in earlier natural science blocks. The careful descriptions and depictions of chemistry demonstrations sharpens their power of observation and unite artistry and science. [6:10]

Grade 8 Student Work in Science: Human Anatomy
The final step in the natural sciences in the grade school brings the student to the mystery of our life on earth: how do we bring our individual spirit into the density of the mineral world? We will view student responses to the mystery, and point to the challenge of bringing both reverence and lightness to this powerfully engaging subject. [25:05]

Grade 8 Student Work in Science: Meteorology
The interplay of the etheric and astral bodies of the Earth becomes an “objective correlative” for the battle of these two bodies within the eighth grader. We see how could observation opens the eyes of the students to the world of being and becoming, while the study of the interplay of water and air echoes their experiences of Fluid Mechanics and Aero Mechanics in Physics. [28:15]

Grade 8 Student Work in Geometry: Part 1
Although often overshadowed by Solid Geometry, the subject of "Geometry in Nature," also known as "Sacred Geometry," provides meaningful experiences for eighth graders. Of particular importance are understanding the Vesica Piscis, the "womb" of all regular polygons, the Golden Proportion ("Phi"), and the Fibonacci Series. [15:50]

Grade 8 Student Work in Geometry: Part 2
We continue with other aspects of Geometry that can be of value to eighth graders. Spirals are constructed in a circle and also through the tactile and kinesthetic experience of folding long strips of paper using the Fibonacci series as a basis. The “Divine Proportion” of Phi comes to life as eighth graders experience their own proportions. [11:30]

Encounters with Algebra
This is a series of instructional videos created by Eugene Schwartz for the Online Grade Seven Conference. The timetable for introducing Algebra varies from school to school. If you have not yet introduced the subject -- or if you have, but feel that your class will need to review it in Grade Eight -- you may find these videos helpful. [Total of all videos is 2 hours, 45 minutes]

For those of you teaching a combined class, here are two “dynamic diagrams” about Seventh Grade that may be of interest:

The Integrated Grade Seven Curriculum [37:00]

The Fourfold Human Being - Adolescence [15:20]

Resources and PDFs

Three Important Articles by Ron Milito
Ron is a retired Math and Science teacher from the Kimberton Waldorf School

Homework as a Sacred Cow Part 1
Homework as a Sacred Cow Part 2

Testing, Tracking, and Grading: The Woeful Trinity

The most thoroughly researched essays concerning all that Rudolf Steiner really had to say about homework. Important reading!

. . . . and Parent Involvement in Homework
One of the homework projects described in this article sounds suspiciously like a Waldorf school assignment.

Eighth Grade Homework
Now that you’ve read the above articles, here is some decidedly minimalist math homework that Eugene designed for his eighth graders.
Click here to view the homework.

A Provocative Article on Math
Click here to read the article

Selected Resources for Chemistry Teaching in Grades 7 & 8
Download the PDF

Eighth Grade Reading List
Some suggestions (most books should be available at or Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore):
Look at
Make Way for Reading by Karen Rivers and Pam Fenner. It is a good reading list.
The Veritas Press -- -- is an excellent source of good reading for students and teachers alike. They are part of a well-funded homeschooling service that ascribes to an interesting amalgam of Christian and Pagan (aka “Classical”) philosophies.

Some good books:

  • Laurens van der Post, A Story Like the Wind
  • Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities / A Christmas Carol / Great Expectations
  • Leo Tolstoy, What Do Men Live By? / How Much Land Does a Man Need? / Three Questions / Ivan the Fool, and all of his short “Fairy Tales and Fables.”
  • O. Henry, The Gifts of the Magi and other short stories
  • Henry van Dyke, The Other Wise Man
  • • Selma Lagerloff, The Christmas Rose

Eighth Grade Blackboard Drawings
For the Industrial Revolution: William Blake’s “Urizen” drawn by Eugene.

“Scientific Discovery” drawing by another teacher

Midsummer’s Night Dream Costume Designs
Eighth graders designed and sewed their own costumes for their class play. Here are a few examples:

The Main Lesson Book: A Student’s Perspective
Please note: The young woman who created this video was NOT one of Eugene’s Schwartz’s students!

Some Helpful Links:

A provocative article on Algebra that touches on how mainstream schools teach mathematics altogether.

The New York Times ran a series of columns about grammar and style. Here is a link to one article; to find the others, just scroll down the right-hand sidebar in the article and there will be more links.

The Vesica Piscis photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope.

An excellent article about the Divine Proportion. The endnotes also link to helpful sites.

“The Secrets Inside Us” looks at some historical aspects of anatomical studies.

A video about the Fibonacci Series

The blog of an engaging mathematics prodigy from Harvard

Science Tackles the Teenage Brain . . . .
Click here to read the New York Times article

. . . . and Has to Face Some Real Challenges
Click here to read the New York Times article

Rudolf Steiner Course Excerpts
If you wish to go more deeply into some of the themes addressed in the Grade Eight lectures, we invite you to listen to some lectures given by Eugene Schwartz in his course,
Rudolf Steiner: The Man, The Age, The Path.
To view the entire course, go to:

Evolution of the Earth and Humanity
Rudolf Steiner’s penetration of the concept of evolution lays the foundation for his teachings about history, Christology, and the genesis of evil. His metamorphosis of the evolutionary picture presented by Darwin and Ernst Haeckel led Steiner to a unique formulation of the way in which species, humanity, and the earth itself undergo ceaseless development and progress.
SC35 Introduction to Steiner’s Evolutionary Picture [13:32]
Perfection and Change; Saturn and Sun Evolution [23:22]
Light and Darkness [12:49]
Moon Evolution; Angels and Dragons [15:24]
Earth Evolution; Hindrance and Evil [18:57]
Densification, Lucifer & Ahriman [18:42]
Lemuria and Atlantis [29:28]
Darwin, Haeckel, Ontogeny & Phylogeny [14:24]
The Cultural Epochs [23:23]
Ancient Initiation Rites [29:46]
The Mission of the Israelites [23:10]
The Christ Principle in Evolution, part 1 [29:13]
The Christ Principle in Evolution, part 2 [33:26]

The Spiritual Hierarchies
Although the Hierarchies are a mainstay of Christian theology and iconography, Steiner spoke of them as active in all world religions. His expansive picture of the activities of the hierarchical beings portrays their intimate and dynamic relationship to human life and evolution.
SC10 The Third Hierarchy – The Angels, part 1 [16:17]
The Third Hierarchy – The Angels, part 2 [15:47]
The Third Hierarchy – Archangels & Archai [15:01]
The Second Hierarchy – Spirits of Form, Movement, & Wisdom [18:28]
The First Hierarchy – Thrones, Cherubim, & Seraphim, part 1 [17:21]
The First Hierarchy, part 2 [14:11]
The First Hierarchy, part 3 [15:06]