Letter to partents
This letter is long, please take a moment to read it, recognise it and reflect on it. We would appreciate your time and partnership.
We are at the beginning of the 8th week of Montessori Farm School (MFS) Folwark Bialka.
It is the School of Experience in the Elements of Social Life. We run it here in Bialka along with something what we callin Montessori the Plan of Study (daily academic schedule) and Work (duties/chores/running the farm and the hotel – your children are hosting the 3rd WMS group this week and earning money for our Italy Trip – November 14-19th).
Thank you for trusting us and building with us and our students/adolescents, your children – the very first Montessori Farm School in Poland with residential aspect. It is an honour and true privilege to work with you and your children on this demanding but beautiful and fruitful project. We do appreciate your partnership, cooperation and trust.
This Montessori Plan for Study and Work was first mentioned by Dr Maria Montessori in her book From Childhood to Adolescence (Appendix A, pages 59 to 70 and Appendix B, pages 71 to 81 – attached). Then the Plan of Study and Work was designed in detail and have been implemented all over the world by group of specialists, Montessori practitioners, pedagogues and psychologist to help adolescents enter real life. This Plan run in the passage from Adolescence to Adulthood is to allow the adolescents (your children/our students) to experience real life and work, cooperation, collaboration, friendship, love, faith and acceptance with their challenges and the fact that the life and its circumstances could be full of unexpected moments and unpredictable situations.
This Plan is also very academic that is why you could see on our day to day weekly plan that our students are busy from 7.00 AM till 10.15 PM.
(…) Schools as they are today, are adapted neither to the needs of adolescence nor to the times in which we live.
Society has not only developed into a state at utmost complication and extreme contrasts, but it has now cometo the crisis in which in the peace of the world and civilisation itself are threatened (…)
Dr. Maria Montessori”From Childhood to Adolescence”
As you could see from our daily Study Schedules – our MFS Syllabus has also been adjusted not only to the needs of our mixed age group (age:11/12-14 – first sub-plane of 3rd plane of development) and to students being at certain grade (from 5th to 8th grade) but also to the fact that we have five students who are 8th graders and 3 of them (one international student has not decided yet) will be passing 8th grade exam mid May.
Residential Aspect of our MFS Folwark Bialka – MF School – allows your children/our adolescents to live and work together in the palace and at the farm (that is a limitless field for academic/scientific studies) and to learn to be a part of small but growing community with the division of labour, acceptance, respect and love toward each other.
“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, there trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”
Wendell Berry, “The Loss of the Future”, in The Long-Legged House (Essays, 2012)
This life lesson that your children have been experiencing the 8th week now is a process. Growing through all of the challenges (incidents) of growing community with our students – coming from different cultural, language, social backgrounds and school academic systems – is not only making our community stronger but giving each and every one of its members long life experience and knowledge how to live life in such a rapidly changing world. Diversity of: ages, nationalities, religions, beliefs, academic backgrounds and knowledge shared also makes us stronger here at MFS.
We wake up with your children at 6.30, do the morning duties (chores), we cook together (Ms Maureen’s Kitchen is such a well prepared and welcoming environment) eat together 4 times a day as sharing food is sharing life, we go to school together to study rooms well dressed (no: flip flops/crocks, pyjamas or shorts), we go to swimming, play ping pong, baseball, football, badminton, do boxing and many more and then your children have mid day and evening duties again to meet the needs of both our community and their members – individuals, growing adolescents.
By 5.00 – the only hour and half – free time – the students/community members now want to spend time together to be a tribe to share these beautiful and at times challenging moments. 6.30 Evening duties 7.00 dinner, 7.30 after dinner duties and 9.30 study hall. 10.15 lights off and 11.00 bed time.
Younger students tend to be in bed around 8.30/9.00 and this is also an option. We sometimes enjoy movie nights or watch football as our alfa males will not miss these sports events (today Ukrainian Szachtar playing Celtic).
Please when you spend this quality time with your children over the weekends both short and long ones model: kindness, trust, appreciation, faith and involvement in real life of smaller or bigger communities/societies. Model grace and courtesy, sharing food together, eating meals together, reading books and many more simple but at times difficult moments of life. Without your partnership our community will not develop and evolve. We need you hear as much as we need your students and all of our dedicated staff members.
MFS Folwark Bialka Staff and their disciplines and shared passions:
– Languages spoken in the Community: English language of communication of all, Polish language of communication for most (bilingualism), Spanish as a second/third language, Ukrainian/Russian Surzyk – five for our students speak these slavic languages, Italian, French, Afrikaans/Dutch.
– Language classes: English with Ms Maureen and Spanish with Mr Santiago, Language Consultation – preparation to 8th grade exam by Mr Przemek Przychodniak our IB DP Language specialist and ORE Examination
– Humanities: Polish with Ms Kasia and History with Mr Jacek
– Math in Polish with Mr Leszek and Math in English with Mr Ashan
– Sciences: biology: beekeeping and setting up our bee farm with Mr Lukasz and our green keepers, botany/zoology and forestry with Mr Jakub – chestnut project, mice and muridae (myszowate), deers and racoon dogs (jenoty) in Bialka,
Barn Duty with Mr Mark – this is how we started our science classes and now we are gradually moving to:
– Geography: Dzialoszyn Wedding Trip – mini Italy getting ready for our Italy Odyssey, making maps, as our geography specialist Ms Edyta is a Climate Change expert (Polish Academy of Science Professor) we have started with recycling project too
– Physics (static and dynamic friction, wood shop physics), in late November we will move to physics in study sessions once a month
– Chemistry – daily in the kitchen, in the garden, barn and now yesterday we have move to once a month studying chemistry sessions with Mr Marek our IB chemistry specialist
– Self Expression: Music and Drama with Ms Magda (Peace Song Performance, Romeo and Juliet with Mr David, Lublin Theatre Trip, preparation for Christmas Concert December 22nd in Warsaw), Arts and Crafts with Ms Dzidka, we also did Earth Art with Ms Maureen and we will get back to it in the Spring, as art is all around us in nature around the palace and the barn
– microeconomic with Ms Malgosia: market sale trips, before moving to on line store preparation (block chain and various experts visiting) planing budget for Italy trip, shopping: Lidl, market and more, budgeting and hosting four elementary groups from Warsaw Montessori School, pumpkin sales to local and Warsaw Montessori Family Schools
– Psychology – David – technology/Nero science, Zofia Szaht Petersen NVC/Dialogue, Dr Barbara Arska – Karylowska consultation, Ewa Maryanska consultation, art drama and animal therapy therapy for adolescents within the Plan for Work and Study
– Sports: started with baseball, bandmington, ping pong, boxing bag, roller skis as movement makes your children smarter. Now moving to football pitch (as we are watching league sometimes), chess and daily movement and leisure outside
Text Books: We will not be providing text books here at the Montessori Farm School, we will only use them as resource materials along with our study guides (karty pracy) and study note books used for each of the disciplines.
“Expecting a kid to learn only from a textbook is like asking them to look at a travel brochure and calling it a vacation” I found this quote in September 2016 when building our Middle School Community (yellow villa/Tatrzanska) in Warsaw to show the parents that we really do not need text books (podreczniki) and grades (oceny, we will only have them mid and end of the year to meet the expectations of 8th grade exam system) and that both are limiting your child’s academic and social growth at this important time of their life.
I am writing this letter the second day now, reading it over and over again and crying tears of happiness that this was all possible thanks to:
– You – the Parents and your trust and partnership
– Your children – our students/adolescents who we love and accept as much as you do
– and our beautiful and dedicated Staff who has been working day and night for the last 8 weeks 24/7 and six months to make this dream of the very first farm school in Poland come true.
Masks are off now and you read this letter while we as staff are still changing and adjusting our plan for study and work, our schedules and MFS handbook and getting ready to our MFS Oddysey to Italy.
Thank you for being with us and making this place such a wonderful school of experience in the elements of social life, the upper school (high school) opening planned for September 2023 as expected.