Mood and Main Lesson Material
Each year when the administrator at the Waldorf-ish high school where I teach part time asks me “when would work for you to teach your main lessons?” I like to sit a bit and think about what it is that I am teaching and how I can use the mood of the seasons to enhance the lessons.
My 10th grade zoology block works best in the spring – there are logistical issues here, too as we go hunting amongst the leaf litter for invertebrates to examine and draw. But the outward gesture of spring works really well, meeting the students enthusiasm to get outdoors and leave the long, cold Wisconsin winter behind. Zoology challenges them to meet the world in a new way and to think about the creatures they share our earth with.
Even more obvious is my choice of Advent to teach poetry. The classes I have taught in poetry during this season have been amazing – the spiritual reality of this time of year, of the gesture of going inward, the watchfulness, the waiting, are all palpable to the students even if they are not able to articulate this. Poetry, as a very personal and inward art, works beautifully at this time of year as each student is challenged to reach toward his or her own star and articulate her observations of her surroundings, of life – of whatever speaks to her and lends itself to poetic expression.
By considering the gesture and mood of the material we are presenting to our children, we can ally ourselves with powerful spiritual forces which can work through us and awaken in our children as we teach and learn. Which subjects are best during the outward moving time of the year? Which are best during the more inward and reflective time of the year? By being sensitive to such things we learn to bring our teaching in a more graceful and spirit-imbued way than if we merely scheduled things according to convenience – or give it no thought at all!