RSSAA - Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor

High School Curriculum

On the Pontiac Trail campus, the Rudolf Steiner High School of Ann Arbor program offers ninth through twelfth grade. Specialist teachers in life science, chemistry, physics, mathematics, history, literature, art, vocal music, instrumental music, movement, Spanish, German, and drama provide both main lessons and subject lessons through the year. The curriculum is supplemented with a variety of activities and clubs (from drama productions to yearbook to hiking club), and annual class trips. Students are also supported in their preparation for college through classroom lessons and individual college counseling sessions.

The High School seeks to prepare students to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing world of the 21st century. It is not enough to teach today’s skills and today’s knowledge; rather, we must awaken in students the capacities to learn new skills and gain new understanding throughout their lives: capacities for sound judgment, critical thinking, and an abiding interest in the world and in learning. Moreover, we must help them to gain an awareness of themselves and others, out of which can arise sound moral judgment and the ideals that give our lives meaning and purpose.

There are three formats of High School academic courses. Ongoing academic classes are taught in the first two 50 minute periods daily four days per week throughout the year. This includes math and world language classes. Main lesson is a unique format to Waldorf education. Main Lesson blocks cover a wide variety of required courses encompassing a full spectrum of topics in science, math, and humanities. Students have a Main Lesson class in three- to four-week long blocks of two-hour classes daily. Since not all academic classes can be taught in the Main Lesson format, the curriculum incorporates another set of academic blocks, also covering a wide range of topics including English, health, computer science, chemistry, mathematics, and a variety of science, humanities, and art electives in 11th and 12th grade. These blocks vary from three to twelve weeks in length, and meet three periods a week.

In addition to academic courses, students participate in a rich variety of required artistic and movement classes. Artistic courses generally meet twice a week, some for double periods. There is a full four-year curriculum in fine art, vocal music (all-school choir), and instrumental music. Movement classes meet once weekly. Special blocks such as woodworking and drama occur at different intervals in the curriculum.

In the sciences, observation and experimentation with the phenomena are the basis for conversation with the students in which they consider the development of the laws and theories that modern scientists use to make sense of their observations. Much of the observation and experimental work is done in the laboratory and field. In the humanities and social sciences, students are taught using primary source materials: the original versions of the great works of literature, and original historical documents. Writing is an important part of the curriculum in all subject areas as students keep notes, laboratory records and journals of their observations and use them to write reports, essays and poetry, creating in each case a main lesson book, a document summarizing not only the content of the course but also their own understanding of it. Work in the arts supports the academic curriculum by developing the capacity to observe, to develop the will, and to solve problems creatively.