The end of the school year brings a torrent of waves, surging voluptuously, towards the end of term. Teachers experience the need to finish main lessons and fill in gaps, before the new year arrives. Then there’s assessing the children, formally and informally, with a view to school reports, looming so large during November. Adding to the picture, many classes work on their class plays, verses and music introduced from early in the term.
The Class Play! Our little ones, so vibrant and full of energy, learning to work together, oblivious to the impact they have on each other, waif-like, they barely have their heels on the ground. It’s not the final performance that sums up the whole, it’s the piecing together of the fabric of the class along the way, that has a lasting effect. Steiner indicated that throughout the younger years, before Class 5, the children are rarely able to put their new-formed selves aside to embody a character. Then there is the transformation at around 11 years of age, enabling the child to live into a character and meet the audience whole-heartedly, as someone other than themselves. Main lesson stories and characters are drawn, written about, discussed and embodied. Then with many aspects of the play already under their belts, the Class Teacher brings the play to the class. Roles are sought after, some are evident, some therapeutic, others left begging. There is choral work, backstage, costumes, and always music, that brings the play to life.
You may ask why this work is honoured with so much time and space in Steiner education? Why do we revere storytelling and drama? At Shearwater, the work in the Primary classes establishes the foundations within the children, for our High School teachers to recognise, acknowledge, utilise, and mould into the dynamic program and performance that is WAVE. Indeed, we do this to bring the young human being to its fullest potential — to extend; to provide boundaries; to nourish growth through experiencing working alongside one another; pulling and pushing together; meeting new horizons; striving towards aspirations, and supporting each other to achieve the same; holding hands, listening and growing together.
As parents, you come in at the end, often not until later in Primary School, to witness the final product — The Performance, a result of the long, growth-full process that underpins the class play. The performance has brought the class together, discovering success and elation through sharing the fruits of their labours; an achievement to be reflected upon in years to come; preparation for the future, when working collaboratively is the key to productive outcomes.
We offer our High School students an amazing opportunity to explore individual choice and skill development through WAVE. When I first arrived at Shearwater in 2018, I volunteered to support WAVE behind the scenes, where students prepared to perform. Each student had a choice to commit and take personal responsibility to work collaboratively towards the production of WAVE. I observed the students working around each other, knowing themselves and the other, with respect and purpose.
This is the outcome of freedom to make choices, to know thy self and work collaboratively. To celebrate being a part of a whole, a breathing, thriving organism that is holistic and alive — the Class Play in a broader sense. A community Class Play. After experiencing now quite a few class plays and WAVE in various forms, it is with wonder and a lot of work, supportive of each other, students of all ages, and teachers in every sphere of the School, that we move forward together, always aware of the stages of development of the human being — our precious youngsters, the budding middle years, our blossoming teens and our graduates, bearing with them the fruits of schooling at Shearwater. Now these young adults are about to go forth into the play of life - with inner strength and with our blessings.