With the advent of puberty the children’s capacity for logical thinking and independent judgment fully awakens. The authority of the class teacher gives way to the individual student’s search for truth. The children stand at the doorway to adulthood and prepare for the next phase of education.
As the children become physically and intellectually mature it is important that they gain a clear picture of history up to the present day. Thus the eighth-grade history curriculum covers the period from the Renaissance through the Twentieth Century. Special attention is given to the emergence of the ideals of human freedom that led to the American, French, and Russian Revolutions, and the way those ideals manifested differently in each nation, and to the pivotal role of individuals such as Charles Darwin in laying the foundation for the modern scientific worldview.
The eighth-grade science curriculum seeks to give the children a picture of the human being as a microcosm of the elements of nature. The teacher now talks about the human being in the terms of physical science; the class will look at the way in which the skeletal and neurological systems interrelate with the various organs of the body.
The study of physics continues in the eighth grade with hydraulics, aerodynamics, and meteorology. The teacher tries to show how the discovery of mechanical principles contributed directly to the development of our modern technological society; for example, how the invention of the steam engine made the Industrial Revolution possible.
In chemistry the children engage in the analysis of organic substances and investigate their role in human nutrition. The chemistry curriculum focuses on those processes by which organic substances are formed (e.g., photosynthesis) and transformed (as in digestion). The children seek to discover how the classical substances of earth, air, fire, and water can be understood and observed in physical processes; for example, in the various influences that create weather or ocean currents.
Algebra studies continue in the eighth grade. The children are introduced to the binary system, which made possible the development of computers. They learn the principles of solid geometry, and actually construct the five platonic solids.
During puberty the children become filled with creative forces. It is the task of the teacher to nurture the forces of inner creativity so that the children become adults who are able to express themselves at their highest potential.