‘A Day in the Classroom’ with John Burnett

25 parents, teachers, grandparents and friends joined us for ‘ A Day in the Classroom’ in March – an immersive, hands-on experience of Steiner education.

Led by expert Steiner Teacher and consultant, John Burnett, the day involved science experiments, drawing, moving, listening, imagining, sculpting and more – all ways to engage different learning styles.

John drew on material from across the curriculum – demonstrating the unique rhythm of learning, and balance of artistic, practical and intellectual content.

After warming up with some maths movement and mental arithmetic games, John introduced a core Class 3 lesson block – ‘Shelters and Dwellings’. This lesson block for 9 year old’s aims to develop a real-life, human connection with the environment. Incorporating the study of world geography, children explore how people around the world have built shelters that fit their particular geographical circumstances, and how humans protect themselves from the elements and create their own sense of space. After being immersed in the theme, our class of 25 sculpted some beautiful homes of their own.

Continuing with clay the class had some hands on experience of fractions, dissecting clay blocks into halves, quarters, eighths and more before enjoying a wonderful lunch made by one of our parents.

In the afternoon John introduced the Class 4 lesson block ‘Man and Animal’ which explores how all animals are shaped by the environment they live in – a giraffe’s long neck, bird’s hollow bones filled with air, a Tapir’s thin snout for collecting insects. By looking at whether animals are dominated by their head, trunk or limbs, children can feel their way into the animal they are studying, as well as gaining an appreciation of how humans ‘upright walk, has uniquely freed our hands for complex tasks of manual dexterity. Imbued with this experiential approach, the class then chose to sculpt either mice or horses and displayed and discussed the results.

The class then enjoyed some Form Drawing – a subject specific to the Steiner curriculum. Form drawing is not only a pre-cursor to handwriting and good hand/eye coordination, but helps students integrate left and right brain functions and develop a more unified view of the world around them.

For their final lesson the class carried out some simple science experiments bringing magnetism to life, and were delighted with the amazing iron filing patterns that resulted.

The day closed with a meditative exercise drawing a single, live flame using beeswax crayons, observing and capturing the surprising number of colours each flame contains.

John is one of the UK’s most experienced and inspirational Steiner Teachers and his excitement for the Steiner curriculum was contagious. The day informed, inspired and was immense fun and left participants eager for more. John has promised us a return visit to continue exploring the unique, rich, multi-sensory Steiner curriculum.