About Camelback Montessori
Adolescent Montessori Education
Maria Montessori divided an individual’s development into four planes of development, each with different characteristics and needs. Adolescents between the age 12 and 18 belong to the third plane development, and the primary goal for educators of this group is to help with the adolescents’ valorization, the process adolescents must go through to integrate their newfound maturity and to reach a level of independence that will allow them to help themselves. In order to accomplish this goal, a Montessori adolescent program must approach instruction in an intentional and purposeful manner.
One of the primary components of Montessori education is Cosmic Education. We are all members of the grander universe and are part of its story. Yet, we also come with our own story. As an educator, it is not up to us to write a student’s story but rather help him//her uncover his/her own story. “The job of the Montessori teacher/directress is not to teach information so much as to guide or direct the children into an area of study by stimulating their imagination and interest, and then letting them go on their own as far as they wish” (Duffy 37). Ultimately, it takes a critical and creative mind to reflect on one’s story and one’s cosmic role. “Cosmic Education is intended to help each of us search for our cosmic task as a species and as individuals… It is only against the background of our place in the Universe, our relationship to other living organisms, and our understanding of human unity within cultural diversity, that we can attempt to answer the question ‘Who am I’” (Duffy 6). A successful Montessori adolescent program will have both opportunities for students to do independent work based on their interests as well as opportunities that encourage collaboration and promote community meeting. For example, practices such as community meeting, group initiatives, and teamwork commonly seen in Montessori classrooms promote community and collaboration. Practices such as Mindfulness and Solo Time promote individuality and independence. In order for a Montessori adolescent program to be successful, it must guide adolescents to learn both his or her individuality as well as his or her role in the universe he or she lives in.
The adolescent years are crucial transitional years from childhood to adulthood. During these years, it is crucial for adolescents to have meaningful work in order for valorization to occur (“Erdkinder” 65). A Montessori adolescent program gives students choices when it comes to the work they must complete. Students may have choices in the order they complete tasks or in the types of tasks they complete as long as they are productive and reach the expected level of mastery. For example, they may have checklists with choices of all of the tasks they must complete for the week, and they will be held responsible for the tasks while being trusted for getting everything done given their choices. In addition, they may have extensive projects that will require critical thinking, outside research, and meaningful applications of what they learned. Teachers aid with an adolescents’ valorization by showing trust and giving the adolescents choices in the chosen work as well as providing meaningful choices for the adolescents to choose from. “Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul” (“Function of the University” 87). Once an adolescent knows that he/she is trusted, it is more likely that he/she will be responsible and accountable for his/her own learning. In fact, one of the gateways to the soul of education is the need for initiation (Kessler 1), and giving adolescents more independence and responsibility is a way to help their valorization.
Finally, a successful Montessori adolescents program will aid in the adolescents’ valorization by providing opportunities for works of the mind, hands, and heart. As with any strong academic program, an effective Montessori adolescents program will challenge an adolescent’s mind with intellectually stimulating and meaningful academic work. In addition to the work of the mind, the work of the hands is important for valorization to occur. The work of the hands may be emphasized in class work, but an experience such as Erdkinder will provide values beyond what is taught in the classroom. “For it is not the country itself that is so valuable, but work in the country, and work generally, with its wide social connotations of productiveness and earning power…Therefore work on the land is an introduction both to nature and to civilization…” (Montessori 1949). By working on the land and in nature, adolescents can gain insights beyond what they learned in the classroom. Finally, the work of the heart is arguably the most important in the education of the whole child. Through service works, adolescents can give back to their community, be more informed and gain an appreciation for issues surrounding them, develop a greater sense of compassion, and learn more about themselves. It is through the works of the mind, hands, and heart that we can educate the whole child in a Montessori adolescent program.