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Montessori in High School

Montessori in High School

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Published by IHSteacher
Interesting article about Montessori method in higher grades
Interesting article about Montessori method in higher grades

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Published by: IHSteacher on Jan 29, 2013
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03/28/2014

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M
ONTESSORIATTHE
S
ECONDARY
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EVELS
147
Montessori AtThe SecondaryLevels
our children have been inMontessori all their lives. Theylove school and learn enthusias-tically. Montessori has been theperfect match, but your children areapproaching the age where they willhave to leave Montessori if their schooldoesn’t do something soon! And soyou ask, “Why aren’t there anySecondary Montessori programs in ourtown? What would it take to start amiddle school class at our school?Most Americans have the impressionthat Montessori is just for earlychildhood. Even though Montessorischools have spread all over the worldduring the last century, most schools inthe United States stop after kinder-garten. Some schools run throughsixth grade, but Secondary Montessorischools are very rare. This is begin-ning to change as more and moreMontessori schools open elementaryclasses, and many have either openedor are exploring the possibility ofdeveloping middle school programs.This is important to the entire Mon-tessori community because, unfor-tunately, in the eyes of many peoplearound the world, “real education”begins with high school. Just considerthe relative respect given to highschool teachers compared to the levelof respect given to those who teachpreschoolers. Consider the dollarscontributed annually to high schoolscompared to the relative pittancegiven to early childhood programs.
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The need that is so keenly felt for a reform of secondary schools is not only an educational but also a human and social prob- lem. This can be summed up in one sentence: Schools as they are today are adapted neither to the needs of adolescence nor to the time in which we live.” 
 — Maria Montessori
 
M
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ROGRAMS
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Today, we know thatthis prejudice isillogical, as researchsupports the prem-ise that the mostimportant years ofa child’s educationare not the years ofhigh school and col-lege but those ofthe first six yearsof life. This is thefoundation of every-thing that will fol-low.Illogical as thisprejudice may be, itis a fact of life thatMontessorians havenot been able toescape. Parents in-variably look forevidence that Mon-tessori works, andthe evidence thatparents would findultimately compel-ling is a track recordof Montessori pre-paring students togain admission tothe finest collegesand universities.For this reason, as Montessori edu-cation slowly develops at the highschool level, it will finally be able totake credit for those terrific youngmen and women that we have beensending off for generations to thefinest public and private high schools.Think back. Do most people give cred-it to the preschools and elementaryschools that they attended, or do theylook back fondly on their high schoolyears? For this reason alone, the expan-sion of Montessori at the high schoollevel is an important and essentialtrend in the future development ofMontessori around the world. Only theestablishment of successful MontessoriHigh Schools can validate the effective-ness of Montessori as a “whole” in theeyes of the average person.
The Emergence of SecondaryMontessori Programs
The first secondary schools organizedalong Montessori principles werefounded in Europe in the 1930s. AnneFrank, the young girl made famous byher poignant diaries, was a student inthe first Montessori high school inAmsterdam when it was closed by theNazis. At last count, there were eightlarge, highly regarded Montessori HighSchools in the Netherlands.The first American secondary pro-grams influenced by Dr. Montessori’sideas, but not openly identified as“Montessori” began to appear in the1940s and 1950s. Co-author, TimSeldin, attended one of the first ofthese programs at the Barrie SchoolinSilver Spring, Maryland, which estab-lished its upper school in the 1950s.In the late 1970s, a small group ofMontessori leaders, interested in thedevelopment of an American Montes-sori secondary model, founded the
Erdkinder 
Consortium. This group’sdiscussions led to a consensus thatwhile Dr. Montessori’s vision of a resi-dential, farm-based learning com-
 
M
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munity would be a model to worktoward, schools interested in devel-oping a modified middle schoolprogram in the interim shouldbe encouraged to do so. Theseschools became known as “urban-compromise” programs.In the 1970s, a number of earlyadolescent programs openly identi-fied as being “Montessori influ-enced,” were established in theUnited States, including Near NorthMontessoriin Chicago, the RuffingMontessori School in Cleveland,Ohio, and two that are no longer inoperation: the Montessori FarmSchool in Half Moon Bay, Californiaand the Erdkinder School nearAtlanta, Georgia.In 1982, the Barrie Schoolbecame the first Montessori Juniorand Senior High School programofficially recognized by the Ameri-can Montessori Society. That year,the Institute for Advanced Montes-sori Studiesin Silver Spring,Maryland, and the Dallas Montes-sori Teacher Education PrograminDallas, Texas, opened the first Mon-tessori Secondary teacher educa-tion programs.During the 1980s, a number ofother programs for young adoles-centsopened in the United Statesand Canada, including the Francis-can Earth Schoolin Portland,Oregon; the School of the Woodsin Houston, Texas; St. Joseph’sMontessoriin Columbus, Ohio; theToronto Montessori SchoolinOntario, Canada; and the AthensMontessori Schoolin Athens,Georgia.Today, perhaps half the Montes-sori schools in America stop afterkindergarten, while most of therest extend to the third or sixthgrade. Montessori Middle and HighSchool programs, however, are stillvery rare. We estimate that there
My vision of the future is no longeof people takingexams, earning asecondary diploma,and proceeding on touniversity, but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to ahigher, by means of their own activity,through their owneffort of will, whichconstitutes the inner evolution of theindividual.”
 — Maria Montessori

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