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Transforming the Self, Awakening the Will

Sophia Mundi Steiner School Class 8 Project

Victoria, Australia
Class 8 students are asked to think about what matters to them as individuals. The Class 8 Project requires students to find within themselves the initiative, resourcefulness and will to help them choose and explore a subject of interest to focus on, to sustain their efforts over three terms and to go through a process with an endpoint during which discovery takes place.

Class 8 Individual Project - a journey of self exploration and awakening of the will

“After finishing my project I found that I actually really enjoy working hard because no mental task is really hard if you have the right mindset”

Class 8 is seen as a major staging point for Steiner students. It is the end of the class teacher period and students are preparing themselves for the next phase of their schooling. There is a major change from having a class teacher to now having subjects taken by specialists, experts in their area.  Attention is rightly given to the importance of working together to achieve common outcomes, (eg class or team projects), while the emphasis for individual learning is often seen as pursuing the student's own abilities in a given direction in the academic, artistic or practical realms.  This of course happens, but now, in addition with this project, the students are asked to think about what matters to them as individuals and choose something of interest that they can explore in the way they would as adult learners. Adult learning is where someone identifies a subject to focus on, a teacher who can help them learn the necessary skills and a process with an endpoint during which the exploration takes place. In class 8 the expert is called a mentor, and each student needs to find one once they have settled on a subject. In many ways the Project is an entry into the upper high school. Students keep a journal and record their processes, both the practical ones and the inner challenges. They reflect on their journeys and give a summation on the night of their presentations. They speak the story of their year’s work. They talk of the highs and lows, the challenges and achievements. Things like maintaining motivation, or working out how to stay organised can have a profound impact on the students. Having a mentor move to another state can derail a project and force a major rethink, again a painful but useful experience. Thinking of what they could have done differently can be a very useful process. They reflect on what they have learned along the way and come to see that they can meet difficulties and overcome them. These are real life lessons and they can be very liberating and empowering for students. They realise they have strengths that may have been hidden up until now. They learn to value expertise and the way it is acquired over time and with practice. The projects are a fitting endpoint to the early years and a look ahead to a future that is partly of their own creation. They allow for a glimpse into a productive adult life, and begin the development of the skills needed to get there.  Sophia Mundi has been offering the Class 8 project since 1992 and some recent examples include the making of a Gibson SG guitar from a piece of blackwood, the writing of a 30,000 word novel, song writing, performance and video making, the study and practice of husbandry, designing and making a couture evening gown, robot making, building a 4m long wooden rowing boat and oars, creating and marketing a skincare range, and constructing a forge. Students present their journey and the project to the school community at the beginning of term 4. These presentations show how students are able to concentrate and work at things for longer than they have before; that they can become independent learners; that they can find value and relevance in their learning, especially when it is consistent with personal interests and goals; and it asks of them to explore themselves and the world around them to help them find their own voice.

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Innovation Overview
13 - 15
Age Group
Tips for implementation
There are no financial requirements of the school. Students are expected to stay within a maximum spend for the project. Each student is expected to find the resources required to develop and complete their project. This includes finding a mentor, finding or purchasing the necessary materials or services of experts and crowdfunding or generating funds through their own efforts if necessary. Teacher responsible as Project Co-ordinator will meet with students every fortnight to review progress, review journals and help overcome obstacles.
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See this innovation in action

"Here is my 4 metre long jimmy skiff-a stitch and glue wooden boat- it took me over 200 hours to make. I had a fantastic mentor."
"I started to write a cookery book but instead decided to develop a skincare range. The chemistry involved in making it was fascinating."
"Angus Young is my hero and music is my passion! With a beautiful piece of blackwood I made myself a Gibson SG."


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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Inspire your current Year 7 students
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Allow time for the Project in your Year 8 timetable.
Timetable a weekly meeting with students.
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Dedicated teacher(s) to supervise the Project
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Celebrate each student's journey
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