Lucky to be here

“This is the first duty of an educator; stir up life, but leave it free to develop.” –Maria Montessori

One of the ongoing junior high projects. This kind of work will be a part of their micro economy.

The quick conversation in the car on the way home today caused me to think a bit on what we are doing here. My daughter is in the eighth grade, and the junior high began their “immersion week” today, where they spend the entire week at the farm rather than in the classroom. They will do chores (my daughter told me she wanted to wear her rubber boots tomorrow because she’s on duck pond duty), they will construct a solar-powered water trough, work on their micro-economy (which is woodworking, and now there is a twist–painting quotes like you see above), and clean out the barn, among other things. They will do this Monday through Thursday, and on Friday they will participate in the St. Marcellus Day celebration together with South Bend’s Center for Peace and Nonviolence (St. Marcellus is a model for non-violence). Then they’ll be back in the classroom on Monday to begin another cycle of learning.

The comment I made to Clare in the car on the way home from the farm was, “You are lucky to be here. Lucky to have such a junior high.” Her response was, “I know.”

As I thought about that, I realized just how wonderful it is to have a thirteen-year-old recognize that she is LUCKY to be at school, without a second’s hesitation. She knows. She didn’t need to put on the stereotypical adolescent angst and roll her eyes about school. She doesn’t think school is something she has to tolerate. She loves it. And she is learning and growing in leaps and bounds.

Maria Montessori knew that the child needs to move in order to learn, and that the adolescent needs to relate in order to learn. The adolescent needs to engage in meaningful work with peers. The adolescent needs freedom with responsibility, independence, and our trust. Our junior high students jump on the city bus to go study at the public library, or they walk to the farmers’ market to buy the food they will cook for each other, or they arrange to meet downtown or at a local park or at the river to continue their ongoing research into local history. They review literature in a seminar format, learning how to think and discuss and argue their points. Their Math is advanced and practical at the same time, as they study Algebra and Geometry and also build their own lockers from bookshelves removed from another part of the building. They work as a team, they guide each other, they learn from each other, they work hard, and they love learning.

Clare is not the only one lucky to be here at this junior high. I am lucky to be able to take in even a fraction of what she does, simply by being present.

Explore posts in the same categories: community, farm school, Montessori, Montessori Method

2 Comments on “Lucky to be here”

  1. Hi, Dan,
    I loved your story! Like you, I consider myself lucky to be a part of a Montessori learning community. Thanks.

  2. Lauren Says:

    This post is an example of exactly what education should be, and I love it! I wish every child could be so lucky!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: