There is so much to cover during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance I feel, with such a small window to do it all. I’ve been struggling with time for the past year, with our on going house building project, I find time is my enemy. I’m realizing that I really need to organize efficiently in order to have time for all aspects of my life. Well for the entire fall semester I’ve been always one step behind when it comes to being prepared, I admit that I have not been offering the best in what a full Waldorf program has to offer but in my defense, I’m giving what I can and trying to subdue self-criticism. My boys are still thriving even if they don’t have the extra-curricular of music, foreign languages, handwork and form drawing. But I’ve been including the form drawing as borders in the main lessons, the boys speak weekly in french around friends and I am trying to incorporate some crafts in between construction of the house, housework and meal preparations.
This main lesson could be much longer than the 7 weeks I’ve allotted to it. I’ve looked for other homeschooler ideas but all that I’ve found was a program overview by Eugene Schwartz on his site Millennial Child. He focused mainly on Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Troubadours. When starting my research I found immediately that this era was governed by feudalism, not knowing anything on the subject I did some reading and found some great sites here and here. So my first week consisted of learning about the feudal system while describing what life might have been like for the people. Then Google led me to master craftsmen and what it implied to become a master craftsman, the joining of a guild, it was of interest that this title still held on today with profession like electrician, plumbers, carpenters, masons etc. This form of apprentice training begun in the middle ages seemed to be an important detail that would be more relevant when we discussed the construction of cathedrals by which only employed masters in various fields. Another point I felt of great importance was how the Church held such power, and how within the clergy they held the same pecking order that the general public held through the feudal system. The emergence of the crusades, what triggered them off and what the reasoning and beliefs were. This would lead to learning about the knights’ templar, their vows, and their purpose. I looked into Wikipedia for info on Eleanor of Aquitaine, a powerful Queen who participated in the second crusades and who initiated courtly love. She was also the mother to one of the most beloved kings of England Richard the Lionheart, who was the first king to also be a knight and he was one to engage in courtly love becoming a troubadour.
I also thought it would be interesting to learn about castle life, entertainment, jousting events as well as the knight’s code of chivalry. Our first block, 3 wks prior to Christmas, would focus on the middle ages and our second block, 4 wks at the beginning of our Spring semester would focus on the Renaissance, the artists both in literature and the fine arts, the age of the first discoveries and expeditions and the new frontiers in sciences.