North Carolina Montessori School Adolescent Program

Course of Work and Study

The Montessori School of Winston-Salem’s Adolescent Program is based on the understanding of the needs and characteristics of the 12 to 15-year-old. It is for this reason that concrete and active learning experiences are integrated with opportunities for reflective and contemplative study of increasingly abstract concepts.

Throughout this curriculum the students have the opportunity to apply discipline knowledge, judgement, and creative skills to problem solving projects that require physical activity, ethical choices, self-expression, and abstract application of interdisciplinary knowledge. The students do this work side by side with highly skilled, trained, caring adults who are experts in their fields of study.

At the end of the three years, the students will emerge from these rich work and study experiences confident and prepared to step into the work and social dynamics of public or private high school program.

The TMS Adolescent Program provides an educational environment that enables young  adolescents to be independent, responsible, resourceful, adaptable adults who positively contribute to the well-being of society.

The Work & Care of the Land

By working in a small community and doing what the land calls upon them to do, the adolescents develop a deeper understanding of the importance of the role they play in the well-being and success of the community. This community-minded work allows the students to see the possibilities for their future roles in society. The work and care of the land is called Occupations. This is a melding of academic knowledge and problem-solving skills. The varying occupations require the students to use their math, science and language skills to complete the necessary work that is based on the students’ interest or the needs of the land. Some of the occupations include organic gardens, raising chickens, and building trails.

Occupations has the following characteristics:

Development of the Intellect

This curriculum is divided into three main areas of work and study:

Self-Expression: Creative and Physical

This curriculum area speaks the most to who the adolescents are at this time in their development. There are many changes occurring in their minds and bodies and because of this it is important for the students to have many opportunities for creative expression and physical activity. During these times the students will engage in areas of choice which include pottery, creative writing, graphic design, drama, music, physical development such as sports and games, personal fitness (swimming, running, yoga, etc.) and nutrition.

Education in Relation to Intellectual Development

Intellectual development is developed and cultivated over a lifetime, becoming more and more complex as these abilities are nurtured. These intellectual abilities include moral education, language and mathematics. These three components are red threads that weave across all aspects of the curriculum and can be found in all aspects of their individual works and projects. The subjects studied in this area:

  • Moral education: civility, citizenship, civics, and community
  • Mathematics: arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and measurement
  • Language: writing, grammar, reading, research and world language

Education as the Preparation for Adult Life

This area of the curriculum prepares the adolescent for adult life. It puts the students in the present by offering them knowledge and practical experiences that will make the individual a part of the civilization and culture of today. The goal of this work is to nurture a respect for and an understanding of the life and work of humanity and its collective endeavors over time. The subjects studied in this area:

  • Study of Earth and Living Things: Earth and Life Sciences
  • Study of Human Progress and the Building up of Civilization: Physics, Chemistry, Mechanics
  • Study of Human History: History, Geography, Political Science and Economics

"But, above all it is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters on the state of manhood and becomes a member of society."

Dr. Maria Montessori, 'From Childhood to Adolescence' Tweet

Work For Adolescents

Unlike adults who work to change their environments, adolescents use the environment to change themselves. It is for this reason that Dr. Montessori speaks of an Adolescent Center for Study and Work where the transformation to adulthood can be fulfilled, a Center which authentically embodies:

Dr. Montessori reminded us all that, “Education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” She called for places that were scientifically planned and methodically created to meet developmental needs and characteristics. She called for “prepared environments”, in which children would have materials that acted as keys for exploration, opening avenues that would unlock possibilities rather than define purposes. These “Prepared Environments” would invite constructive activity without demanding conformity. Dr. Montessori realized that these keys would link the child to the real world, academic, social and ecological.

All these broad elements are balanced with work on the land. Montessori speaks of the need for young people to work not only with their heads but also with their hands. She sees the importance of their taking on meaningful roles which may arise from the cycle of farm occupations. Work of this nature has a normalizing effect upon the young person and will invite him/her to related academic investigations. The holistic experience of a small farm community provides a microcosm of society. The young adolescent comes to see himself/herself as a viable member of this society and social group, embracing responsibilities and challenges as a confident, respectful citizen.

Given these opportunities in specially designed prepared environments, the child will acquire the characteristics of a healthy normal human who is at peace with the world around him. In this way education is an aid to life, serving the children and nourishing their inner needs. If we allow children to do productive work that meets their needs and interests then satisfaction is created, and energy flows for more productive work. In a sense this is man’s cosmic task, to work. The psychic nourishment he needs comes through work, and this becomes the means of development, and the true work of self construction.

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