November 3, 2020, Hero’s Journey Performance. In house only.
It’s almost that exciting time of year when our Grade 8 students present their hero through a series of monologues interwoven with movement and music choreographed to create a tableau that is empowering and poetic. It all begins in grade 7 when they select the hero that they will write about in their Hero’s Journey assignment.
It’s a pivotal moment for the middle-school student when they research and identify a person they deem a hero and begin their own journey of writing and learning about this person’s evolution of overcoming and meeting challenges.
The Waldorf Academy Hero Project
Why do we initiate this Hero Project in Grade 7?
Because not only does it teach literary structure and the unfolding of story in the classic Joseph Campbell monomyth, but it helps students at a pivotal developmental stage identify with the nuances of life in ways that help them see that while life may not be easy, its challenges are surmountable.
The classic Hero’s Journey character arc laid out by Campbell shows how people can live more heroically. It gives us something to aspire to. It sparks inspiration and confidence.
Psychotherapist Miles Neale insists in his 2018 book, Gradual Awakening: The Tibetan Buddhist Path of Becoming Fully Human, that it is possible for the average person to live heroically. He argues that in trying to model the hero’s journey in real life, people gain meaning and benefit the greater good.
The Hero’s Journey as Campbell taught it is a 12-step path that is found in many global mythologies. It’s a common arc for popular films like Star Wars and the Wizard of Oz. It’s taught widely in K-12 and at the university level as a formula for screenwriting and literary understanding.
Connecting Waldorf curriculum to the world
And in Waldorf Academy’s Grade Seven, the Hero’s Journey aligns with Waldorf pedagogy to build community, confidence and awareness beyond the individual human.
This is a character lesson, in a way, challenging students to consider what they might do to protect or serve their community, those they love and even their sense of self and identity. These are pivotal moments in a crucial stage of growth and development, leaving childhood for the tumultuous time of adolescence.
What makes a hero?
Our students engage in exploration of what a hero is, how they become one, and automatically engage in a personal wrestling of what they might do in similar situations, or how they might respond. It is, in a way, a test of the internal mettle of a growing and advancing human, poised to make crucial decisions in who they want to be and how they want to interact with the world.
The Hero’s Journey project starts in Grade 7 and culminates in Grade 8, with an art presentation and tableau in November. This year we are unable to provide a public performance. Parents will view it live through zoom and grade 6 students will be allowed to watch. Grade 7 students are supporting the grade 8’s this year with music. November 3, 2020
Through the process, students deepened their understanding of their hero, executing a large art project based on their hero’s life, compiling a speech from their hero’s actual words and then collaborating with classmates to create a cohesive show incorporating all of the heroes’ voices through their speeches and through drama, movement and music. There is usually not a dry eye in the house.
No small feat for a middle school assignment!! And well worth the effort.