We do not want complacent pupils, but eager ones: we seek to sow life in the child rather than theories, to help him in his natural growth, mental and emotional as well as physical, and for that we must offer grand and lofty ideas to the human mind… Maria Montessori.
The Adolescent program plan for Crescent Montessori School is guided by the primary task of this critical period in life, the transformation from child to adult. Discovering the true adolescent is the foundation for the planning journey. The universal characteristics and tendencies, which determine the specific needs of this developmental period, provide the framework for our plan.
The plan is to implement a Montessori Adolescent Program in September 2012 as a natural extension of the existing program at CMS. This plan will complete another phase toward a full spectrum Montessori school across the planes of development. Specific aspects of the plan are detailed in the narrative sections that follow.
The adolescent shows up with three questions:
Who am I?
Where do I fit in?
How can I serve others?
The location of CMS in terms of the Sonoma Community Center itself and the Center’s location on East Napa St. make it an ideal site for the application of the principle of Pedagogy of Place. Elements of urban and farm experiences are within walking distance of the school. Cultural opportunities abound, both within the Center and within the town of Sonoma. Utilizing this opportunity to build a sense of belonging and a sense of responsibility to the larger community of Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley is a priority for the adolescent plan of work and study at CMS. Activity on the land and in town enriches academic work by furnishing the relationship connections the adolescent looks for to validate his experience.
UNIVERSAL ELEMENTS OF ADOLESCENT PROGRAM DESIGN:
Head / Hand
Montessori urges us to never give more to the head than we give to the hand. Developing opportunities for occupations (real and meaningful work) as they relate to place and connect to the disciplines will be the primary focus of the staff in preparing the plan of work and study. Prior to the first year of the program’s launch, pilot programs involving the Upper Elementary students will take place, beginning the process of community connection and provide a trial period of implementation and review. These programs which have already been put into action are: Garden to Market project at Quarter Acre Farm and Garden to Table Project at the Sonoma Community Center. A description of the Garden to Market project is included in the syllabus that accompanies this prospectus.
Production and Exchange
The Garden to Market project will provide and introduction (an extended first period) to the element of production and exchange which will become an integral aspect of the adolescent program. The world of adults in all cultures is shaped by economic activity. Adolescents becoming adults need to try on the roles of those around them. Work, with the element of production and exchange, has the advantage of combining the quest for independence with economic independence. The work is real in that it has all the elements of an existing culture or community. Products and currency generate activity. This work differs from the work of an adult in that the work of the adolescent is a means to development, while for the most part, the work of adults in a career is often a means to an end.
Experiencing Nature and Super–Nature
Making connections between the natural and human built world furnishes the backdrop for the sciences in all of their splendor. Science inquiry is a fundamental process for learning and thinking. It is a subtle, demanding and flexible process. The goals of the inquiry / project based approach to science is to involve math in every aspect of the work, to help the student communicate scientific data and thought in writing and speaking and questioning and to remain curious and always reach for the next question.
As with the other elements of the environment, community plays a key role through activity. The adolescent emerging into the adult is in the state of expectation. He needs and wants to know how to fit in. The practical life experiences of grace and courtesy develop as a natural consequence out of the necessity to live and work in cooperation with one another. Care of the environment and consideration for others is built into the plan through the technique of division of labor. Structure and rules provide a foundation for adaptation. Collaboration triggers social engagement while independence opens pathways for self-sufficiency. Both are valuable in a community as the members look out for each other and themselves. An environment of caring relationships means caring about one’s own self, others and the environment. This type of environment creates the community support and safety adolescents desperately need during this vulnerable time of growth and transformation.
The Sonoma Community Center is just that, it is one center of a diverse community. Our school students and staff have the experience of being part of this unique community on a daily basis. We have a mutually enriching exchange as a result of being together. The center is the home to the visual and performing arts. The potential for personal expression, occupations and humanities are within reach of any direction. The center has a pottery studio, art studio, a water-wise garden that attracts birds and butterflies. The garden, home to sculpture installations hosts events that draw the community together. A newly remodeled kitchen is available for the schools students to use.
Our students attend school in an historic building that is shared by many other groups and organizations. This unique experience builds a natural affinity for and comfort with community. This extension will continue to play a big part in the adolescent program. The adolescents will be able to make the most of the successful long-term relationship CMS has with the center.
Sonoma is a wonderful combination of contemporary life superimposed on an old historic town. An agricultural community at heart, Sonoma is sleepy and vibrant at the same time. We are right in the thick of things at our school location. It is possible for our students to walk out the door in any direction and create a study that would weave into any of the disciplines. Here are a few examples: creek study, (science, human impact, geology, ecology, weather), culinary arts, (science, economy and exchange, language arts interviews, math, business) gardening, (biology, math, ecology, art, data collecting). The list is endless. Our staff is dedicated to help make the most of these rich possibilities and make them available for our students.
Creative Expression and Physical Expression
This has always been a significant part of the school’s every day life. Our students expect to have time for expressive pursuits. Our adolescent students will find the same and more available to them in their ever widening explorations of the local community as well as through their explorations with the humanities. The importance of creative expression and physical expression (Phys. Ed.) goes far beyond art lessons and physical education. They provide a valuable means for “opening up of ways of expression, which through exercises and external aids will help the difficult development of the personality.”
Goals of the Adolescent PE program are to:
- offer many different opportunities to explore ways to stay physically healthy.
- allow for individual differences in physical ability and interest.
- bring specialists in when possible.
- rotate projects that will last long enough to develop some proficiency but change often enough to satisfy interests. (6-week projects)
- provide choice.
- provide some opportunity for organized competition and team-building.
- equip students with the most up to date information on personal Health and Nutrition
What We Observe Regarding Physical Development of Adolescents:
- they seek physical challenge
- they still like to play—especially if it’s a social activity
- they also work towards individual accomplishment
- they can be competitive
- they are exploring different ways of using their bodies
- they want to know their physical limits and potential