Magazine article Montessori Life

Three Going on Thirteen: Preparing for the Adolescent Learner

Magazine article Montessori Life

Three Going on Thirteen: Preparing for the Adolescent Learner

Article excerpt

In preparation for this column, I spoke with three Montessori educators on the subject of preparing Montessori students to be successful adolescent learners. Deb Cyrier is a former Montessori student who is now the 6-12 head teacher at the Montessori School of Elkhart in Elkhart, IN. Anna Sadkin, the mother of two Montessori children, is the 3-6 head teacher at Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School in Miami, FL. Meredith Wood is a Montessori teacher and parent who is currently the director of admissions for the Montessori School of McLean in McLean, VA.

I began the discussion by readhig Jean Piaget's definition of reflective abstraction that occurs in the adolescent Formal Operational Stage of development (Piaget, 1971). Piaget defines reflective abstraction as the ability to rearrange and rethink information already acquired. I asked the group, "Can an educator prepare a child for this adolescent experience?"

I then read a passage from Maria Moiitessori's To Educate the Human Potential:

Let us feed the child, give them playgrounds, clothing, freedom of speech (the right to freely ask questions of the teacher). . . . If the teacher can really enter into the joy of seeing things, being born and growing under his own eyes, and can clothe himself in the garment of humility, many delights are reserved for him that are denied to those who assume infallibility and authority in front of a class. . . . He achieves the patience of the scientist, a patience which consists of intense interest in watching.

(Montessori, 1989, pp. 83-84)

I asked another question: "By observing children in a Montessori environment, what skills do you think Montessori students learn that help them prepare for later adolescent stages of learning?"

A spirited conversation ensued, and what emerged was an intuitive list of ten qualities a Montessori education instills in a child to prepare him for the adolescent experience:

1. Independence; 2. Organization; 3. Initiative; 4. Time-management skills; 5. Problem-solving skills; 6. Conflictresolution skills; 7. Ability to create one's own structural space; 8. Understanding of how behavior affects the community; 9. Connection with adults in a learning environment; and 10. Willingness to take risks when learning. …

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