Receive the child in reverence
Educate the child with love
Let the child go forth in freedom
— Rudolf Steiner
The philosophy that underpins our education provides the basis for a universal education which has proved to be adaptable in diverse cultures across all continents. This education places the human being at the centre of all teaching and learning. The curriculum and the educational methodology are based on an intimate and comprehensive study of child development. The natural phases and rhythms of child development guide both the introduction of content and the methods of instruction.
Orana Steiner School offers a strong curriculum recognised by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Report Authority (ACARA).
Important goals of our education are to develop in the student’s creative and flexible thinking, emotional strength, moral integrity and a will to engage in life. To achieve this we have more than just a different teaching approach – it is an art of teaching that weaves together a number of vital interconnecting aspects that include teaching methods and curriculum and a clear philosophy, all of which gives Steiner Education its unique identity.
Steiner education fosters a deep regard for human values by encouraging imagination, empathy and a rich emotional appreciation of the natural and social worlds as well as educating the intellect. We strive to have the head, heart and hand all learning in harmony within an environment that is aesthetically pleasing. Buildings and equipment utilise natural materials wherever possible.
The curriculum of Orana Steiner School offers a balance of academic, artistic and practical activities so that the child is thoroughly prepared for life. Through this comprehensive approach, one that does not specialise early, students come to know the world in its diversity and complexity and always in relation to the human being. This allows them to find their place in the world and feel connection rather than alienation.
Through the subject matter, the students learn to develop and harmonise their powers of thinking, feeling and will. It is not only what is learnt, but also how and when that is important. Emerging capacities and abilities are fostered and supported by a curriculum that recognises and works with the specific strengths and challenges that develop at different stages of life.
The task of education in the first seven years is to help the child develop physically in a healthy way and to especially protect and stimulate the developing senses. This provides the proper foundation for the future development of the child’s social, academic and emotional life.
To achieve this, Orana’s early childhood program provides a secure, nurturing and homelike environment where creative play, healthy routines and simple tasks are part of the daily rhythm. In Kindergarten, children learn through their experiences in craft, baking, drawing and modelling; through the imaginative use of natural materials in their plays and games; through garden walks; storytelling, songs, rhymes, dance, and the celebration of special occasions.
A typical Kindergarten day, for instance, would follow a familiar pattern with:
- - circle time and the morning song;
- - a selection of artistic activities, handwork, preparation of morning tea;
- - creative play, story time for listening and interaction;
- - rest and quiet times;
- - outdoor play;
- - fruit time and goodbye songs.
For the whole seven years of Primary School, Orana students remain in the care of their Class Teacher. A rhythm is provided to each day through the Main Lesson where the children receive material with challenging concepts from each Essential Learning Area, and engage in imaginative language experiences. Between recess and lunch, the Practise Lesson consolidates what is learnt in the Main Lesson and gives time for foreign language teaching.
Specialist teachers also work on a regular basis with the children in languages, handwork, sport, library and music. Children experience the beauty of music everyday through singing and in playing the recorder and violin, which they learn to play in Class 1 and Class 3 respectively. The afternoons are dedicated to painting, modeling, drawing, music, drama, handwork or craft, speech and movement, or outdoor games/PE and gardening.
In a typical lower primary lesson children would be engaged in:
- - a pictorial introduction to the alphabet, writing, reading, spelling, poetry and drama;
- - fables, legends and folk stories;
- - numbers, mathematical processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division;
- - nature stories, house building and gardening.
As children enter the upper primary school, around the age of nine and ten, they are ready for a wider approach and a broader range of humanities and science subjects areas. A typical upper primary lesson would involve:
- - writing, reading, spelling, grammar, poetry and drama;
- - Norse myths, history and stories of ancient civilisations;
- - review of the four mathematic processes, fractions, percentages and geometry;
- - local and world geography, comparative zoology, botany and elementary physics.
By Year 7 a typical lesson would involve:
- - creative writing, reading, spelling, grammar, poetry and drama;
- - medieval history, world exploration, American history and biology;
- - geography, physics, basic chemistry, astronomy, geology and physics.
High School and Senior College
High School commences in Class 8 with specialist teachers giving the Main Lesson and Subject Lessons, and Year Coordinators assuming the responsibility for student pastoral care, class administration and parent contact. In High School, students study a full range of subjects including humanities, mathematics, sciences, languages, arts, design, physical and health education.
The High School teaching program assists students to take increasing responsibility for their own learning and to develop their own ideals, values and sense of purpose for adult life. The High School encourages students to become independent thinkers; to use their own observations, research, conclusions and judgements; to form relationships with specialist teachers; to address questions and problems in specialist subjects, and develop a wide range of expertise as well as an active, articulate and rounded thinking capacity.
At the conclusion of Class 10, students move into Classes 11 and 12, the Senior College.
The Class 11 and 12 curriculum is comprehensive and carefully designed to balance a Steiner approach with the contemporary requirements stipulated by the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies. Purpose-built facilities support a broad curriculum of Science, Art, Music, Design and Technology, Fashion, Drama and Photography as well as Maths, English, Politics and other subjects. Students also have the opportunity to include an Australian School Based Apprenticeship, ASBA, as part of their Year 11 and 12 package.
This broad, integrated approach to the Senior College curriculum emphasises the development of a well-rounded student through equal exposure to arts and sciences, together with a range of electives. Orana’s tradition of extensive pastoral care for its students continues into the Senior College.
In Class 12, each student selects, develops and documents a significant research and/or activity-based project which is the culmination of their Steiner Education, and may also contribute to their ATAR score for university entrance.
Senior College teachers, working closely with each class group on The Class 12 Project, support students’ academic and personal development in the light of their individual aspirations. The wider school community, including parents, friends, mentors and others interested in the topics, meet to acknowledge the students’ achievements at a special end-of-year presentation of all the Class 12 Projects.
English at Orana Steiner School
Orana teacher Brenda Goggs discusses the teaching of English at Orana Steiner School.