In a Waldorf high school, many class names begin with the words ‘History through.’ The study of art, drama, music and architecture unfolds in a historical context, providing deep understanding of the chronology of and the relationships between artistic and cultural developments. These courses provide a rich background for the study of human history (in the more traditional sense of the word), in which the ninth grade Tara students learn about World Wars I & II and modern European and American history; in the tenth grade, they focus on civics and American documents. During their World History trip to Europe, the twelfth graders get a firsthand experience of much of the culture and history they’ve studied. The four-year curriculum provides our graduates with a well-rounded comprehension of human history.
Literature is at the heart of Tara’s English program. One-and-a-half-hour English track classes are held twice a week throughout the year; students read, discuss and write about books chosen to complement their curriculum and development. Many main lessons also have literature as their focus: during these three-week blocks, great books and their authors are studied intensively. Writing and grammar, natural parts of English track and all main lesson classes, are specifically introduced and reinforced in dedicated courses in each grade. Tenth graders also enjoy a poetry block, during which they read and study the work of many poets and become poets themselves. And Tara’s many in-class writing exercises and academic journal requirements for all festivals, plays and trips help to develop our students’ extraordinary ability to articulate insights and emotions.
Following Rudolf Steiner’s indication that students should learn one Romance and one Germanic language, we currently offer Spanish and German. Our goal is that students graduate with the ability to communicate while visiting a country where the language is spoken (something our German students practice in Vienna on the senior trip), a firm background in the literature and culture, and a solid foundation in grammar. Three years of foreign language are required (two years must be the same language). If a student elects to take the fourth year of language, it is an honors-level class. Universities and colleges are increasingly considering a fourth year of language to be a plus in a student’s academic profile, even though it is not required by most schools.