Question: With all the politics surrounding us this year I want to integrate political studies into our curriculum. How can I do that?
Answer: Students study actual government structures in high school Earthschooling classes since that is the way the Waldorf curriculum is organized.
However, every age has an appropriate way to get involved in government without throwing them into the complex inter-workings of government systems.
Students should be gradually introduced to politics/social studies/community & public service using a Waldorf pace so:
All Ages: Allow them to see you participating in politics in your own way and follow along with what you are doing. No special lessons are needed. They can attend lectures with you, go to vote with you, visit the local statehouse, meet senators, go to rallies, or even marches.
First Grade: Students can learn about community service and getting involved in their community in a gentle way. Learning about guidelines in the classroom and having a ‘plan’ and ‘organizational system’ for study gently introduces them to systems.
Second Grade: Students can learn about heroes in government within their “Heroes and Saints” block. Choose 1-3 people to introduce them to and talk about how that person is important and what they did for their government/country/people.
Third Grade: In third grade students study a housing block as well as gardening. These blocks leave ample room to introduce students to the concepts of different kinds of housing, why some people may be homeless, what your city is doing about it, volunteering at a homeless shelter, etc. During the gardening block students could become involved in community gardens and learn about how they are structured and the good services they provide.
Fourth Grade: Students study Native cultures during the fourth grade block. This is a good time to introduce the concept of Indigenous cultures and talk about different groups in your local area that are marginalized. Government systems can be brought into discussion through this lens. Also during the fourth grade year students are learning about Local Geography. Local politics can be introduced during this time. Who is the mayor of your town and what does he or she do? Is there a local community meeting you can attend?
Fifth Grade: Different political systems are discussed in the lessons on Ancient cultures. We explore kingdoms, pharaohs, and more. Ancient Greece is most similar to our current system. Tie-ins to modern society and politics are frequent and can be discussed with students.
Sixth Grade: Ancient Rome & The its influence on modern political systems as well as political philosophies.
Seventh: Students study the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Age of Exploration, and more. We include many tie-ins to modern politics in these lessons and there are a lot of opportunities to discuss how things are different in the way society is organized today.
Eighth: Students study the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, and WWII. They learn about The Constitution, Bill of Rights, International politics and so much more!