Thoughts on Fifth Grade
The Three Gates
(translated from Persian text)
If you are tempted to reveal a tale someone has told about another,
make it pass before you speak, three gates of gold.
First: Is it true?
Then: Is it needful? (In your mind give truthful answer.)
The last is narrowest: Is it kind?
If to reach your lips it passes through these gateways three,
Then you may tell your tale,
Nor fear what the result of your speech will be.
The verse above has a powerful message for 5th graders – this is the time when a desire for intimacy and special friendships begins to emerge...but, like learning any life skill, at first the students are very clumsy at it and feelings can get hurt right and left. Plan for numerous group activities that mix and match students so that all get a chance to interact with different individuals in the class – not just a select few.
“Prior to the fifth grade, many students (especially the girls) lean in to you. After the fifth grade, they begin to lean away from you, but in the fifth grade, they just stand in the upright.” Thus spoke one of my colleagues in a discussion group of 5th grade teachers...worth contemplating as you meditate on Steiner’s description of the 10-11 year old as embodying “The Golden Age of Childhood.”