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Third Grade and the Third Grader

In this episode experienced Waldorf teacher Kris Ritz and I discuss the Waldorf third grade year with a focus on the developing third grader. What is the nine/ten year old experiencing? How can we the adults in their lives be most supportive of their experience at this time of transition? These are the sorts of questions we dive into in this episode.

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Kris Ritz is a Waldorf teacher who joined the Emerson Waldorf School community in 2008. She is grateful for the creative students and community-building parents she has been with over the years and is with during this current grades school journey. Before returning to North Carolina, she was a class teacher at the Austin Waldorf School and spent a year at Plowshare Farm, an anthroposophical life-sharing community, in New Hampshire. Kris graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, During a career in advertising, she discovered Waldorf education, returned to school, and earned a Waldorf certificate and Master’s degree from Antioch New England Graduate School. In addition to teaching in the grades school, Kris enjoys sharing the third grade curriculum with teachers participating in the summer Renewal courses offered by the Center for Anthroposophy.

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For this episode guest Kris kindly complied all the resources and notes. Thank you Kris!!

Show Notes:

As it relates to the course, "Decomposing the Colonial Gaze," with Chérie and Petna Ndaliko:
The stories we tell in the classroom provide a framework for the academic and artistic learning along with the education of the will-building, behavioral, and social/emotional realms of the students.  As teachers, it is essential that we understand the pedagogical impulses of why we choose the stories we do at particular stages of development and are cognizant of the variety of stories that are available to truly unfold our shared humanity and diverse ways of being. Without such conscious work and effort, stories continue to be magnified through a colonial lens -- the result is "decorative diversity" rather than structural change. The Ndaliko's course, "Decomposing the Colonial Gaze," is an important catalyst for meaningful, purposeful storytelling and decolonizing the curriculum. You can visit https://yoleinstitute.org for more information about the Ndaliko's work.
As it relates to the Hebrew Bible stories shared during the third grade year in a Waldorf school: 
Through storytelling, the many curriculum lessons unfold. Each grade has theme(s) for the stories shared based on the Waldorf curriculum indications. In various grades, creation stories are shared, which can extend to other aspects of the particular faith tradition. These types of stories are offered in the context of describing a group(s) of people, the places they live, the culture that is expressed, and more to offer a portal into various ways of living upon the earth and in community, not for the purpose of religious instruction. It is hoped that what is received by the child can provide a seed for future growth and connection, for community building on a local through a global scale. Each story is to be penetrated by the storyteller to understand its meaning and purpose. That depth of study, for all aspects of the curriculum, allows the child to enter more fully into the archetypal pictures of humanity that are expressed. 
The Hebrew Bible stories were suggested by Rudolf Steiner for the third grade for particular reasons, including that from the Days of Creation through to the prophets and prophetesses the stories mirror the developing consciousness of the child at this particular threshold. There are many resources available for further information and study to uncover what is living within the story that the child connects with at this particular age. Karen Rivers, who has studied world religions, been a Waldorf teacher and administrator, and has offered many parent courses, has a series of audio recordings related to the Hebrew Bible stories. For more information, you may contact: www.karenrivers.info.
As it relates to the developmental change at this time:
Encountering the Self: Transformation & Destiny in the Ninth Year by Hermann Koepke -- While parents and teachers can find each chapter helpful, the particular one titled, "Dear Parents," can be useful as this is the type of information that would be provided by a class teacher in a Waldorf school during parent meetings held throughout the school year.
 - I Am Different from You: How Children Experience Themselves and the World in the Middle of Childhood by Peter Selg.
Out of the Garden and into the Desert: The Nine-Year Change Through the Stories of the Third Grade Curriculum by Neal Kennerk and Jennifer Kennerk -- This book provides information about how the Hebrew Bible stories shared during this age meet the changing consciousness of the child at this stage of development.
- "The Unique Anxieties of the Nine-year Change" by Dr. Adam Blanning -- https://denvertherapies.com/the-unique-anxieties-of-the-nine-year-change/ -- The article provides additional information about this developmental transition.

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