What is a Main Lesson Block?
- A dedicated two-hour block of time in the morning that is the central academic focus of the day.
- Students spend a considerable amount of time in the creation of a Main Lesson book.
Main Lesson Book
Sample of a Grade 2 and Grade 6 main lesson book
- The Main Lesson Book contains compositions and artwork such as illustrations, diagrams, timelines, and maps that accompany them.
- These notebooks reflect the student’s comprehension and academic growth and are used by the teacher, along with weekly tests and classroom observations, to evaluate the progress of each child.
The concept of a Main Lesson may seem like a completely foreign one. It doesn’t fit into any particular subject, and requires students to make their own book! This can be very daunting for those who are new to Waldorf education (and even some ‘seasoned veterans’). In order to understand the role of the Main Lesson in Waldorf education, it is necessary to understand a few fundamental aspects of this kind of education.
First, the Main Lesson is not purely academics – students will often sing, play recorder or even do mental math exercises. These activities may vary from day to day or week to week according to what the teacher feels is necessary to engage the children. That said, the main focus of the Main Lesson is on intellectual learning.
Second, learning does not take place by simply reading a textbook. Learning begins with storytelling. This is why teachers must work hard to know their information in a detailed, easily presentable fashion to ensure that they are able to convey all the necessary information. Approaches may vary, but learning always takes place through interacting with others (teachers and classmates). Focus is also ensured by having a Main Lesson for a certain number of weeks – by focusing on chemistry, or a specific piece of literature, students are able to hone in and gain detailed understanding of the topic.
Third, Waldorf is the only educational method to use rhythm as a learning aid. This means, for example, that a new story might be told on Monday. On Tuesday, something will be done that is connected to the story, such as painting or modeling, using imagery from the story. On Wednesday, students might work on academic pieces such as writing summaries in their Main Lesson book.
Finally, there is the actual Main Lesson book. This is a creative, artistic culmination of the information presented throughout the entire Main Lesson. It is usually made up of drawings, stories and summaries, with special attention paid to making it aesthetically pleasing. It is not enough to simply have correct information in a Main Lesson book – it must also be beautifully presented and show each student’s individual personality.
In this way, students learn using: listening, re-telling, writing (and the necessary re-reading that goes with this), as well as creative/artistic impressions. Not only does this result in a more holistic approach to the information, but it also ensures better absorption by the student no matter what approach works best for the individual.
A sample grade 7 main lesson block rotation:
|January 15-February 9
|Physics (Acoustics, Optics, Thermodynamics, Electricity, Simple Machines)
|February 19-March 9
(with Mr. Redican)
|Grade 8 Projects (6-8p.m. – mandatory attendance for grade 7 students)
|March Break and P.D. Day
|March 27-April 13 (approx)
|History II: The Renaissance and the Age of Encounters
|April 16-May 11
|Play Block (Renaissance play)
|May 14 – June 1
|Buffer zone – possible continuation of Chemistry; review of year; and/or Independent Geography Projects or a combination of the above