For the 12 to 15-year-olds, Maria Montessori had a special environment in mind. Because adolescents are in a special stage of life, on the threshold of adulthood, the environment should reflect all aspects of adult life and provide opportunities, not only to pursue academic interests but also participate in real adult practical work in a social setting as close to a real society as possible. Through experiences of everyday life and its responsibilities, the adolescents will practice what it takes to become a contributing member of a wider society.
This experience includes an initiation into economics and an understanding of its importance for everyday life. Another important aspect of the environment is that it should put the adolescents in close contact with nature in order to instill an appreciation and understanding of the responsibility of the planet on which we live and are a part of. Dr. Montessori named students in this period of education Erdkinder, meaning "Children of the Earth".
The Bovina Center Montessori School will have a work and study process that emerges from direct contact with the land. The vast acres of woods and farm become the “prepared environment” for the adolescent. The farm activities lead the students to a study of farm science, land management and ecology, biology and chemistry, mathematics, accounting, geometry, civilization, economic systems, algebra, physics, energy, environmental issues, and technology and information.
In short, the farm activities and their features are the points of departure for formal studies, but the educational syllabus goes well beyond immediate academic extensions that arise out of farm work.
The curriculum and instructional design are developed so that, within the farm environment, each student is exposed to and well versed in knowledge and skills common to pre-collegiate curricula. Courses of study necessary to meet these standards are available to the students if they are not accomplished through the farm’s integrated plan of study.
The middle school students will work from a contract that includes lessons and project-based learning. Learning is integrated to maintain the Montessori philosophy and to show the students the connections between subject areas. Arts and physical education are integrated within the students’ weekly schedule. Technology use is presented as an extension of a student’s ability to communicate. Students are immersed in the use of technology as a collaboration and research tool, shifting the power of learning directly into the hands of students.
In addition to academic work and farm experience, internships, service learning, and volunteerism are increasingly encouraged and integrated into the School’s curriculum and year, contributing to a beginning independence and work experience in congruence with their entrepreneurial and sustainable living practices.
A typical middle school day is segmented in to larger blocks, to accommodate in-depth study without interruptions:
8:30am-8:45am - Morning Meeting
8:45am-9:30am - Community Work (which involves maintenance of the farm and the school's prepared environments)
9:30am-12pm - Occupations or Humanities (Or some days, Creative Expression, Physical Expression or Larger Community Work)
12:00pm-12:30pm - Community Lunch
12:30pm-1:00pm - Free Time
1:00pm-3:00pm - Math or Language Arts
3:00pm -3:30pm - Care of the Environment (chores and clean up)
3:30pm-3:45pm - Dismissal
More information on the academic schedule and community workflow in the middle school, is available by contacting our Middle School Curriculum Developer, Ryan Tucker at email@example.com