Upper School of Montessori Farm School
Montessori Farm School – Upper School (MFS US) – Center for Study and Work
Dear Parents, Dear Students, Dear Staff,
I am honored and happy to inform you that the Upper School of Montessori Farm School opening is now definite and planned for September 1st, 2023. You might think it is a quick evolution considering the fact that we have only started in September 2022 with Montessori Farm School (5th – 8th grades) but this is a powerful, natural, and organic growth that was possible thanks to All of You, your faith in the project, your support, contribution, and partnership. As of September 2023, we will be opening a new group of high schoolers, 9th graders of the Pre IB-program.
We do invite and welcome All of our MFS 8th graders first. As they will have priority to join, we do recommend staying with us and building the next step of something deep and meaningful in the history of the Montessori IB Diploma Program in Poland and Internationally. We have a great interest in this residential aspect of our upper school program too.
Please be a cornerstone of this new project. We will be honored to continue working with you, fill your adolescent needs, and guide you as you enter adult life. There will be both a new exciting program for 9th graders and a new building ready in late spring. All for you – older adolescents to feel happy, comfortable, and well cared for.
Below please find some information about MFS US.
Enjoy and get back to us as soon as possible please.
Upper School – definition: – ages: High School level – ages 14/15-18
– program: Pre-IB preparation for IB DP program as well as meeting the requirements of the Polish high school syllabus (starting with: art faculty: VA – Visual Arts and Theatre), biology-chemistry, math-physics)
– World Languages: English (instruction) Polish (instruction), Spanish (as a second language), French or German private tutoring
MFS US – Center for Study and Work
Study: at the palace
Work at the farm (e.g. bee keeping project, VA plenary and art exhibitions locally and globally)
Residential: at the palace or the freshly renovated dorms
Students – Interpretation of the IB Learner Profile in Montessori Terms
– International – entrance interview in English
– if Polish – 8th-grade exam results to be considered plus entrance interview required
– MFS students have priority to join
– entrance interview in English is required: both online (zoom) and on-site options possible
– followed by a 5-day trial at our center for study and work (residential)
– the candidate will be asked for a written review of his study and work experience at the farm
Our Mission Statement:
The mission of the Montessori Farm School Upper School (MFS US) – Centre for Study and Work is to foster a Montessori educational environment conducive to each older adolescent‟s unique qualities and abilities for the development of social, emotional, and reasoning skills that are essential for a lifetime of independent, creative thinking and learning in the community, both local and global.
Dr. Montessori said that “Education is a natural process carried out by the child (adolescent) and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment. This supports place-based pedagogy.
At the heart of our older adolescent community and the MFS US program is the pedagogy of place, which focuses on helping students find their position within broad social, geographic, and economic contexts.
Montessori Farm School Upper School is a center of study and work, it is the school of experience for young people who come from around the world and who are willing to participate in both practical considerations of our social organization (both local and global) and in the MFS US Pre IB educational syllabus.
Our MFS US Plan of Study and Work is based on understanding Dr. Montessori’s principles of human development from birth to adulthood. The core of our Plan of Study and Work is the experiences of purposeful work and social organization. It is a project-based pedagogy that follows the student with his human tendencies and developmental characteristics.
Our goal and hope are for young independent adults to enter the society with the strengths and tools to make changes both in local communities and global ones. Our program is now designed for younger adolescents (age 12-15) and will open to upper level (15-18) in September 2023.
Dr. Montessori makes us believe in peace as a practical principle of human civilization and social organization therefore her principles must be our guide in building a science of peace and educating adolescents for peace.
Our Adolescent Community provides many opportunities for work and study based on education for peace. Our adolescents will leave the program with tools and strength for conflict resolution and problem-solving and will be willing and able to share their knowledge, they are therefore as Dr. Montessori said both a hope and a promise for mankind.
International Day of Peace as well as International Celebrations (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Women‟ s Day, St Patrick‟s Day and many more) are opportunities for experiences of purposeful work and social organization. These are the Rituals and Traditions that we cultivate in our adolescent community.
To educate in terms of – providing experiences of purposeful work, social community, and the educational syllabus (Montessori Plan of Study and Work) for young adolescents (ages:11/12-15) and now older adolescents who are going to stay with our adolescent community and become part of MFS US organization.
“Psychologists interested in adolescent education think of it as a period of so much psychic transformation that it bears comparison with the first period from birth to six. The character is seldom stable at this age; there are signs of indiscipline and rebellion. Physical health is less stable and assured than before”. (The Absorbent Mind, p.19)
“But, above all, it is the education of adolescents that is important because adolescence is the time when the child enters the state of manhood and becomes a member of society.” (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 60)
“The essential reform is this: to put the adolescent on the road to achieving economic independence. We might call it a “school of experience in the elements of social life.”” (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 64)
“The chief symptom of adolescence is a state of expectation, a tendency towards creative work, and a need for the strengthening of self-confidence.” (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 63)
I have written the essay while graduating from the Orientation to Adolescents Studies AMI Program in July 2016 under the advisory of my beloved trainer and advocate of adolescent‟s needs, Pat Ludick. I am very proud now that we are not only able to implement the philosophy of Dr. Montessori at our urban-based settings of Warsaw Montessori Middle School and Warsaw Montessori High School IB DP Program but especially here at Montessori Farm School with its new branch opening September 2023 – Montessori Farm School Upper School.
Thank you, David McNees, for being our coach and supervisor in this project. We will not be where we are now without you.
Finally, I want especially to thank all the students and the families of Montessori Farm School for their continuous support and partnership, and all the staff of specialists led by Ela Zendel for making this project possible with their consistent dedication and help. It is their faith in Montessori philosophy and the adolescents’ potential that supports our sharing of something deep and meaningful in the history of Montessori adolescent education in Poland and internationally.
The Evolution of Montessori Farm School – Upper School – Center for Study and Work
The prepared environment for the adolescents – young people of the third plane called by Dr. Montessori the Erdkinder (children of the land/earth) now consist of experiences of purposeful work, social organization, and the adult as a guide working side by side with the adolescents. This environment should respond to both the freely developing young person and the role of the individual in the society, both local and global. With the rapid changes happening in our societies these days: social, economical and political, Montessori offers a universal Plan of Study and Work for practical considerations of social organization as well as an Educational Syllabus. This “blueprint” is universal as it could be implemented anywhere around the world as it is based on a “land” concept.
“But above all it is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters the state of manhood and becomes a member of society. If puberty is one of the physical sides of transitioning from an infantile to an adult state, there is also on the psychological side, a transition of the child who has to live in the family to the man who has to live in the society”. (Montessori Maria, From Childhood to Adolescence).
Adolescence is the time of rapid physical growth/change, they come to school looking as children but they leave looking as adults. Physical work on land is definitely an answer for their growing bodies that need a variety of physical and intellectual work (the holistic approach of mind, body and spirit), they also need physical expression through sports.
“Education should therefore include the two-forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence.” (Montessori Maria, From Childhood to Adolescence).
Adolescence is the time of delicate physical transition, but it is also a delicate age, the age of doubts and hesitations, of violent emotions and of discouragements. Young people of this age need to fortify their self-confidence.
“A valorization of his personality, in making himself capable of succeeding in life by his own efforts and on his own merits” (Montessori Maria, From Childhood to Adolescence).
Therefore, Montessori gives adolescents the opportunity to do real, meaningful work, the ideal concept is to give them the farm to run with its 6
economic consequences. Work on the farm (as a prepared environment) valorizes the individual, the adolescents. It gives them the chance to recognize and show their abilities and to contribute directly to society.
Adolescents also have a tendency to creative work, therefore the Montessori Educational Syllabus offers a variety of Self – Expression activities via music, language and art.
Adolescents are adult-like, in public, with visitors, being very well spoken, showing people around professionally, but they are emotionally still children. I will never forget these two lovely girls, Hershey students showing a group of us Orientation participants (adults) around seriously and professionally and then getting so excited (childlike) when telling us how much fun it is to play on their outdoor swings, the ones that they have independently constructed/built over the woodshed occupation.
Dr. Montessori calls adolescents “social newborn”, and for him to understand the society which he is about to enter, we need to provide experiences of purposeful work and unique contributions (experiences of social organization). Adolescents want to work side by side with an adult, they need to be invited to the community, therefore our job is to prepare the environment where they could experience responsibility, freedom and economic independence, both community and then individual.
“(…) to acquire economic independence (…) be able to succeed by his own efforts…to be in contact with the supreme reality of life”
“(…) a need to be placed in a position to understand the role which he will play in the society” (Montessori Maria, From Childhood to Adolescence)
By giving adolescents the opportunity to care for themselves, the farm environment and its community and by providing work in the kitchen, in the woodshed (structures occupations), looking after the younger children, gardening etc. we are making them part of fundamental mechanisms of the society. Adolescents are in the sensitive period for justice and personal dignity, they will now develop spiritual equilibrium (moral training) by interacting with others collaboratively, they will now via residential life, farm, store, occupations and scientific and historical studies experience and learn about the social organization with its collaborative aspect. They will learn how to act towards some kind of social harmony.
“The „sensitive period‟ when they should develop the most noble characteristics that would prepare a man to be social. That is to say, a sense of justice and personal dignity” (Montessori Maria, From Childhood to Adolescence).
There is no one role model for that, although Montessori Plan of Study and Work seems to be ideal for the adolescent to be placed in a position to understand the role which he will play in society. They need a variety of work, occupations, they need a choice and voice that they are often missing when they leave Montessori Adolescent Programs going to conventional schools.
When working with early adolescents we are experiencing “an unexpected decrease of intellectual capacity” and low motivation levels. Adolescents are self-focused (it is all about me/them), they feel like they have this imaginary audience – they believe that we are looking at them and judging them at all times. Adolescent’s black and white thinking gradually turns to complex analysis, the ability to think how one thinks needs to be formed, their ability to empathy is strong at that time but it could turn out to be paranoia.
We, Montessori adults, guides working side by side with the adolescents, have to be very patient and be sure that this is never about us.
Adolescent developing as an individual and the member of a society will do lot of role playing, they will try on different masks. Their peers are their tribe, they are figuring out who do they get along with, who do they trust, their loyalty is to each other and it is very strong. But for all of that they need adult mentors, specialists, they need to work side by side with an adult, who should be offering modelling, walking away and coming back – that is a dance of Montessori adolescent adult for an adolescent development both individual and as a member of society.
Adolescents for their transition from the child who has to live in the family to the man who has to live in a society, need a village of carrying people, the family provides the primary scaffolding, but they need to know they are loved by their guides, their specialists and that we have faith in them and in their future. They are writing their own story of one‟s life in a society both local and global and need to leave a mark of their contribution.
Montessori Plan of Study and Work with its practical considerations of social organization (residential life, farm occupations and store-market) and Educational Syllabus with self-expression via music, language and art, psychological development via moral development, mathematics and language and all the preparations for adult life studies is fundamental for the adolescent‟s life in society.
Montessori makes us Montessorians believe that the farm with its variety of occupations (about 12 prepared environments e.g. kitchen, organic garden, woodshed, structures, barn etc.) is a naturally prepared environment. Her Triad diagram in the third plane of development now changes to
Adolescent/Adults as Materials/Experiences of Purposeful Work and Social Organization, with microeconomics and society.
“We might call it a ‟school of experience in the elements of social life”. She says. (Montessori Maria, From Childhood to Adolescence). The land, the farm provides very rich environment (food, shelter, economic activities, that requires knowledge in all of these areas), if a Montessori Adolescent Environment can not be a farm itself, we have to be creative and make sure it consists of 3 platforms the farm, the shop and the residence. The farm/land as a prepared environment provides multiple opportunities to interact within a social organization, with roles, with divisions of labor, with individual and collective contributions, it has activities and responsibilities to adult-like, provides adult-like challenges e.g. animals being born and dying or the money loss with with some micro economy project at some time, growing their own food, the work must be purposeful, not necessary made up by adults, farm life and seasons decide what the occupations are. The activities/occupations need to be head-hand balanced with appropriate relationships between physical and intellectual activity challenges. Adolescent contributions are recognized on the farm/land and valued by the community – potentially resulting in valorization, their activities on the farm have connections to economic endeavors.
“The essential reform is this: to put the adolescent on the road to economic independence (…) for this it would result in a „valorization‟ of his personality, in making him himself capable of succeeding in life by his own efforts and on his own merits, and at the same time would put him in direct contact with the supreme reality of social life” (Montessori Maria, From Childhood to Adolescence).
The work on the farm provides practice in social life, in negotiating relationships, responsibilities, in sharing space, sharing duties, sharing time – all of these environments are multifunctional and opportunities are available for individuals to explore personal gifts and interests, but with the awareness of community context and community needs. The farm environment provides rich and diverse opportunities to integrate academic content with meaningful work. The farm is a limitless field for scientific and historical studies: when growing food, preserving it, cooking, selling, there is always a chance for study and work.
“The school should become the place where the child may live in freedom, and this freedom must not be solely the intimate spiritual liberty of internal growth. The entire organism of the child, from his physiological, vegetative part to his motor activity ought to find in school the best conditions for development. (Montessori Maria, Spontaneous Activity in Education, 142)
When I first began reading publications on Erdkinder Montessori philosophy and programs, I realized that I was actually raised this way. My parents moved to the country when I was 6 and thanks to that move, they managed to send two hard working daughters – to the University. This came after 12 years of living in a country during the difficult time of communism. While living in the country, I learned how to care for all animals on our farm and others in the surrounding areas, how to plant and keep a garden, how to complete and manage work orders and how to deal and cooperate with financial institutions and authorities. I also realized how our economic levels depend on climate conditions and weather in general. By watching and helping my parents with farming, I learned how order and exactness and being on time with everyday obligations is most important for one to achieve harmony in life.
There were no trends for ecology at that time, but our family lived using many types of natural, sustainable practices, making repairs rather than throwing valuables away, growing and preserving our own vegetables and meat. My parents sent me to the University (I have chosen to study Law) ready for life as an adult.
Erdkinder, to me, is definitely the answer to adolescence. I have experienced it myself and I am convinced that this farm/land environment responded well to freely developing individuals and my role in society.
“Therefore, we must create an environment for the child wherein the child can carry out his experiments, an environment in which he finds the possibilities of carrying on his activities without being all the time chased away by adults (…) the aim is to present the child with opportunities for his activity. These are not schools, but houses of children” (Montessori Maria, Lecture on the Prepared Environment, Kodaikanal, India,1943)