Middle School Montessori Program
The Montessori Middle School philosophy provides opportunities and support for adolescents as they gain self-knowledge and self-confidence. They belong to a community in which they are responsible for their own behavior. They learn to be adaptable, academically competent and challenged, and to create a vision for their personal future. These adolescents become empowered to be peaceful, accomplished, and involved citizens of the world.
Sun Grove Montessori School uses a National Montessori Curriculum guide and a team-teaching model.
Educational environments prepared for adolescents by Montessori educators are designed to build an adolescent community in which young people gain social experience that prepares them for adulthood. The right environment for adolescents, according to Dr. Montessori (1992 : 109) is one in which they can have ‘effective, practical experience of every aspect of social life’. One of the central roles of the Montessori environment prepared for adolescents is to initiate these young people into the world of adult work.
While Dr. Montessori’s adolescent curriculum emerges from a rural blueprint, it is not possible for all Montessori adolescent communities to live and work on a rural farm.
Our environment adapts the principles established by Dr. Montessori’s framework. Our goal is to provide students with land and nature connections, and to introduce them to the world of adult work and connections to our wider community.
While each year choices will vary, the following list details possible projects, occupations and micro-enterprises:
- gardening, horticulture, landscaping, hydroponics, vermicomposting
- land and nature trail care
- recycling and managing water resources
- incorporating management and financial aspects of business
- maintenance of computers, grounds, sports equipment and more
- keeping bees or poultry
- making and marketing items such as herbs, jewelry, belts, soap, candles and/or baked goods
- planning, leading and participating in school-wide events, fundraisers, and community service
- planning fundraisers or other events involving school-wide participation
- mentoring or tutoring younger students
- management and design of the Sun Grove Montessori School yearbook
The Montessori Middle School includes traditional subjects as well as the design and production of our school’s yearbook and creation of service and business enterprises.
Our program also includes extended trips, organized by the students, such as camping, ropes course, learning & adventure trips, and internships. The emphasis is on integrating study and work in an environment that combines participation in community life and contact with the natural world. We cannot emphasize enough how integral these activities are to our overall program and curriculum.
The work in the adolescent community provides students with opportunities to take on a variety of roles. These include ongoing companionship within the community and the building of relationships with neighbors and wider community. They also become aware that, through their own effort, they can make a difference in the world. When the work is meaningful, the students feel valued and their contribution is tangible.
The study undertaken in the adolescent community also contributes to moral development. Through their study of history, for example, adolescents build their knowledge of the past, and possible futures in the context of sustainability and the well-being of planet Earth. Studying human history from an ethical point of view, especially the relationship of humans with the natural world, brings into focus current environmental questions. A study of how humans have, or have not, used water and land, plants and animals, air and energy sustainably in the past raises moral questions for humans in the present and into the future.
As children pursue their research interests across the curriculum, they draw on a vast array of resources, including face-to-face contact with teachers and experts, planning and participating in excursions and going out activities, as well as using paper-based, digital and web-based technologies. As new digital technologies are developed, these are added to the resources available to children in Montessori classrooms in ways that match the children’s capacities and interests. Children use a range of technologies as research and production tools, including email, CDs and DVDs, Internet-based communication and computer programs that enable manipulation of words, images and sound. They develop skills in using the technology as they apply it to relevant areas of the curriculum. In this way digital technologies become part of a balanced program, without displacing paper-based skills, such as using reference books, finding books in a library, handwriting and technical drawing. It is also important that the use of digital technologies does not replace activities involving face-to-face communication and exact physical movement, for example, listening to guest speakers, preparing spoken presentations, interviewing experts, art work and model-making, visiting museums and field work.
The use of digital technologies across the curriculum incorporates development of the following skills:
- experience with a range of computer programs to achieve a variety of goals e.g. producing text, managing data, multimedia presentations, research
- combining text, sound and images to design presentations
- collecting, interpreting, evaluating and managing information gathered through a range of electronic resources
- developing an ethical approach to the use of information and communication technologies
- applying appropriate occupational, health and safety principles to computer use.
The use of computers for student research and subsequent projects is a somewhat new component in Montessori education. To date it appears that children six to nine years old develop best when their hands are more directly involved with manipulating materials in their work. It is essential during this period that the children learn to think clearly and read and write in an organized manner. While computer guidance and instruction begins in lower elementary, research studies and creative writing becomes more prominent at the upper elementary level. By this time, the children’s thinking, reading, and writing abilities have a solid foundation. They are ready to make full use of the practical advantages of computers.
A brief orientation for parents will be held in August. Orientations days for new students are held the prior to the first week of school in August. The teachers’ and parents’ role is to guide and support the student in an increasing level of responsibility and independence. Additional family conferences are held in the fall, winter and spring or as needed.
It is important for older students to be empowered and intimately involved in problem solving strategies both in work and social dynamics. If a teacher has concerns regarding a student’s work or behavior, the teacher will engage with the student first. Further communication with parents will be discussed between teacher and student when necessary. Our goal is to encourage responsible communication by facilitating opportunities for the student to directly communicate with their teachers, peers and parents.
Collaboration and partnership between school and home are helpful during this time of development. Staff will reply to emails or return phone calls during breaks or after school.
The cognitive, intellectual dimension of the environment covers the study of the earth and human civilization. It not only involves the study of knowledge, but how to apply this knowledge. In this way, students have the opportunity to expand understanding and skill, both through practical problem-solving and intellectual reasoning. Cognitive or intellectual outcomes for the early adolescent stage of life include:
- learning to express oneself using a variety of modalities, including artistic, verbal, musical and electronic, in ways that relate directly to the occupations and roles in the community
- addressing philosophical questions and analyzing scientific causality in nature
- building understanding of the mathematics directly connected to the practical needs of the community and the mathematics needed to represent in scientific observations in symbolic form
- building knowledge and skill in a variety of languages and how to use language to engage with different cultures and to improve human understanding
- connecting the history of life on earth and its civilizations with one’s personal evolution and with society
- building a global view of the whole of history and the future destiny of humans while reflecting on the individual contribution one makes to the creative direction of the future
- understanding the nature of interdisciplinary studies, the relationship between the disciplines and the totality of the natural and human-built worlds
- using available tools and technology to continue the inquiry into how knowledge can best be applied
Emotional outcomes for the early adolescent stage of life include:
- understanding the connection between personal vocation, a person’s life work or mission in life, and the larger effects on community
- feeling self-sufficient and confident, based on an ability to care for oneself and others
- developing inner harmony and happiness through a love of work, study and achievement, and participation in and contribution to the work of society
- feeling hope for future world progress
- experiencing the joy of relating one’s own life to history and recognizing the importance of carrying on traditions of culture
- experiencing freedom in the spontaneous collaboration with others
- experiencing the value of life and experiencing a sense of belonging
- enhancing inner discipline, creativity, aesthetics and productivity through learning about hand-crafted art and practical achievement
- gaining a sense of control over change, both internal and external, in one’s personal and social evolution
- building a feeling of usefulness, and an understanding of one’s own strengths and talents
- building a belief in the human capacity to solve problems and to overcome adversity
Through experience of different social roles, adolescents learn to understand the difference between right and wrong actions in relation to work, study, the environment, and social responsibility.