TRIAL BY TEXTBOOK
So we’ve had our three maths main lessons in Class 8, and used a wide range of numeracy skills in many other units throughout the year – is this enough? Alas no – mathematics is a subject, especially in this techno-mad age, requiring continual, sequential and incremental development, in particular in concept-challenged adolescent education.
Without compromising the other 11 main subject areas by providing regular period-type practice lessons (as occurs in some Steiner schools), it is preferable to present each student, at the beginning of Class 8, with a standard maths textbook.
There are any amount of these available from educational book supplies, designed for every learning level. The exercises are actually done in the student’s own time, hopefully on a regular basis, say 15 minutes each school evening – yet another example where self-motivation in learning is encouraged. The work is written in a special exercise book provided for the purpose; it is regularly checked by the schools’ specialist maths teacher, and/or the Class Guardian.
Both the above people are to be considered as readily accessible help resources, especially for the more difficult problems. If these are overwhelming, or conversely too simple, the book should be replaced with one more suited to the student’s aptitude.
At the end of the year, an assessment of the student’s quality and quantity of work is made, and a Report written. This – positive – document is included in the student’s personal Report Folder, along with the other 38 subject Reports given that year (3 of them specifically on maths). There will be 5 of these Maths Textbook Reports through the 5 years of high school.
Experience has shown that with the horizon-wide number program given throughout the 7 years of Steiner Primary education, most students find the standard Class 8 textbooks a breeze. Many indeed race through them and demand, sometime later in the year, to move onto a Class 9 book. If parts of the current text are too easy, the student should not feel obliged to do every exercise, but rather a token few from each set. The textbooks of course remain the property of the school, to be reused as appropriate.
As the old adage has it, mathematics, like many areas of human endeavor, is half perspiration half inspiration. The textbook program here described roundly accommodates the former, freeing the 3 maths main lessons to be explored in the spirit of creativity – as they should.