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Greek Mythology & History

I think the block that encompasses the 5th grade curriculum the most, has to be studying Greek Mythology and it’s history. What I have come to understand about the Waldorf pedagogy is that it’s aligned with the development of children, and it’s so evident when you look at an 11 year old child. In college, I studied Fine Arts, one of the era’s that inspired me most was the Greek and Renaissance periods. Both can be described as idealistic, golden ages really, perfectionism in human’s embodiment , interacting with the Gods, mythological creatures were mostly the focal points. The statues were carved in marble with such elegance and beauty. I’ve read somewhere that you can see this grace and lightness in the bodies of 11 year old children, when only a year later their bodies tend to calcify, becoming more dense and filled out. I particularly thought of my own growth, and can recall a time feeling heavier all of a sudden. At eleven, my body was thin and elongated.  While with my twelve year old body, my muscles where more apparent, with the onset of puberty changing my body in curves and volume, I can definitely say that I became more dense.

This block was based on D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, Ancient Greece by Charles Kovac, Alexander the Great and Famous Men of Greece. Greek mythology is vary comparable to other cultural myths and religious stories. They based their belief system on these stories of these gods. Living on top of Olympus,  a mountain so high you can not see it’s top. No man could ever climb it. “Mortals worshiped the gods and the gods honored Mother Earth. They had all sprung from her, for she was the beginning of all life.” Gaea, the earth, came from the darkness and looked up at Uranus, the sky, dark and blue and twinkling with stars. It was not before long young Gaea became Mother Earth, the mother of all living things.

After reading through several chapters, I suggested he drew the Olympian gods that sat on the twelve golden thrones. Zeus, all mighty, with his bucket full of thunderbolts, sitting on the highest throne. Tristan decided to draw them standing. He really is getting a style of his own, i’ve noticed over this past year that his drawings our increasingly personal. For the most part, I don’t see his work until he’s finished since i’m normally working one on one with Evan. I was very impressed with his choice of design and composition. It’s so noticeable when he is enjoying a story, the drawings turn out fabulous.

In Donna’s curriculum, she suggest to read both the myths with Charles Kovacs book. Allowing to compare two writing styles and two points of vue, in relaxed form through conversations. Tristan really fell into Charles Kovacs writing, he loved the flow of his storytelling. The battles, the conquerings, the missions the Gods were faced with. One that really captivated him was the battle for Troy, I think many love this story. It’s the Greeks’ cleverness with building the Trojan horse that makes this story so appealing. For most of the work in this block, I asked Tristan to compose his own version of the stories read. This is really the first year he did not complain at the idea and took to the challenge. I was pleased and relieved that this day had finally come!

He drew a map of Greece, copying the beautiful drawing in D’Aulaire’s book. Wrote the Greek alphabet which some he knew without knowing. He’s a big fan of Star Wars, he knows the story and each underlining story that intertwines. There are so many characters, it’s hard to remember who’s who, especially since they are clones and all look alike. But Tristan somehow could tell all of them apart, and can identify each one… Delta, Alpha, Beta, Omega are some he recognized. So needless to say, it captivated his attention!

He’s also reading a series of novels called “Percy Jackson”, the stories are based on Greek mythology and he was quite astonished to know each God already. One of which is Pan, God of the forest, he says the story is quite similar to the myth. Tristan has taken to drawing and has develop a style of his own. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not with him most of the time, he does a lot of his work independently now. Which makes it possible to teach his younger brother Evan on difficult subjects like reading and math. This particular day, Tristan had obviously enjoyed the story because his rendered illustration was fantastic. Even his composition was fabulous! Surprisingly, this is coming from a boy who barely a year and half ago would whine to write anything. Living through homeschooling is believing it’s possibilities. All I had when I started was faith in knowing this was the gentler way. Slow but steady, letting them blossom in their own time. Keep in mind each child is completely unique and will blossom at their “right” time!

We are presently moving to a not yet constructed new house. We will be living in a camper for a few months, and needless to say, we’ve had to shorten our school year. I had many ideas for this block, including a plaster sculpture, a geometrical weaving design to compliment geometry while juxtaposing it with the history. I also thought of organizing a Greek Olympics day with the homeschool group, I’ve heard that this is a tradition in Waldorf schools. But since we will be building our house ourselves, there has been many points to organize and consider that have taken precedence. Lucky for us, our homeschool group is already organizing an Olympic day since its the 2012 summer games. I thought of combining some ‘laurier’ crowns with some white greek toga’s. I just have to see if this is just a little optimistic with my time frame! If I end up doing something i’ll definitely post it. I’ll begin next fall tying up the blocks unfinished. Looks like Donna does not have a full 6 grade curriculum so i’ll be concocting one up of missed blocks along side the Romans, Business math and Human Anatomy blocks.

One of the last stories we read was that of “Perseus and the Gorgons”.  Perseus was the son of a beautiful princess named Danae. An oracle foretold that the king would die by the hand of his daughter’s son, so he locked up his beautiful daughter in a tower with only an opening on the roof. Zeus happened to see this beautiful maiden, he would visit her in the chamber. Soon after Perseus was born. When the king heard that Zeus was the father, he placed Danae and her son in a chest, a threw them out to sea. A fisherman caught the chest in his net and  care for them as if they were his own. Perseus grew into a handsome young man, and his mother Danae beautiful as ever attracted the eye of a ruthless king of the island. Danae being the bride of Zeus, turned him down. The king tried to take her but Perseus protected her. He set Perseus to be wedded to a neighboring princess and expected him to bring him gifts.  Only Perseus was so poor, he offered his service instead. The king expected him to slay Medusa, a monster and bring him back her head. A perilous journey that brought Perseus to visit the Gorgons, sisters who knew the secrets of Medusa.

 

“When Perseus went on his journey to cut off Medusa’s head, Hermes and Athena came to him and gave him an invisibility cap, a shield and a sword. They also gave him a bag to hold Medusa’s head and some flying shoes. When he got to the Gorgon’s cave, he went in backwards because if you look into Medusa’s eyes, you turn to stone. He then cut offf Medusa’s head with his sword.”


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