Adolescent Program (Middle School) (Ages 12-14 years)
“It is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters on the state of adulthood and becomes a member of society.” — Maria Montessori
Arbor delights in the unique challenges of educating adolescents. In our adolescent program, adults and students function as a community of learners in an atmosphere of mutual respect and support. Students participate in every facet of a miniature economy, from production and exchange to marketing, advertising, customer service, and more. Driving this “micro-economy” are the practical endeavors of working in the garden, keeping bees, and preserving our watershed, which provide context and meaning for challenging academic work and offer opportunities for leadership and authentic responsibilities within the community. In taking part in real work that benefits society, adolescents have the opportunity to discover their purpose and find their voice.
Characteristics of the Young Adolescent
Adolescents are anxious to contribute in a meaningful way. In the adolescent program at Arbor, students have many opportunities to experience the responsibilities of leadership and of making choices within a loving, supportive environment.
With their expanding capacity for abstraction and critical thought, adolescents are highly creative thinkers and learners. Our interdisciplinary project-based approach supports flexible thinking and a personal connection to what students are learning.
Adolescents long to feel a sense of belonging within their peer group. Arbor’s adolescent program classroom is a unique place where the concepts of acceptance and belonging are discussed and where each student agrees to take responsibility for creating a place where everyone feels welcome and valued.
Exploring the Self
At Arbor, we seek to bring forth what we call “the noble adolescent.” We believe that by calling to the adolescent’s highest self, by respecting and honoring each student’s differences and complexities, we create fertile ground for his or her individual growth.
Adolescent Program Curriculum
In order to accommodate a wide range of interests and learning styles, teachers vary their techniques in the classroom; lectures, seminars, group learning, and hands-on activities are all employed to target different types of learners. In this way, teachers can expect students to be fully engaged in their learning. In the adolescent program, students demonstrate their mastery of material thorough various methods: quizzes and tests, book reports, oral presentations, group work, visual projects, demonstrations, and labs. Science, mathematics, social studies, Spanish, and language and writing are a natural outcome of the adolescent curriculum.
There are opportunities for participation on the debate and sports team, and many chances for creative expression in our art and music classes. Each spring the students direct, choreograph, create sets and lighting, and act in a dramatic production.
Adolescent Program Music
The adolescent music program is structured as elective class offerings. Each trimester the students choose one of the three offered classes. These classes allow for student creativity to flourish, while enriching the student’s knowledge of various musical subjects. Examples of classes are Rhythms of the World, Melodies of the World, Composition and Recording, and Music for Enhancing Stories. Each class culminates at the Gallery Matinée, during which the students get to show off their creations for the rest of the class.
Adolescent Program Art
The art program is similar to the music curriculum in that it is based on elective offerings on a trimester basis. Students in the Adolescent Program can build on the foundation created by their Elementary art program experience to delve deeply in a specific technique or medium. Offerings include drawing, painting, print-making, book-binding, fiber arts, sculpture, clay, collage, art of re-purposed materials and stone carving. The stone carving elective, available to 8th year students only, is a year-long project.
The Adolescent Classroom
The Adolescent classroom is designed to be fluid and flexible to meet the needs of the curriculum. The space can be configured with seats and tables arranged in corners of the classroom for small group classes or seminars as well as opened up for community meetings for the entire student body. The space can even transform into a theatre or coffee house.
The kitchen is a focal point of the classroom. Students use the kitchen to support their three micro economy businesses: Pizza Day, Coffee Corner and the Arbor Market. Academic studies support this micro economy work. For example, a food safety occupation leads to the study of microorganisms, the human immune system, physiology and nutrition, as well as providing experience in the practical skills necessary to support cooking for a crowd.
The adolescent community extends beyond the walls of the classroom, as well. Arbor’s urban garden provides produce for the class and market. The students also tend to two beehives located on the property. These outdoor classrooms provide a hands-on setting for the study of plant physiology, botany, chemistry and ecology. Dr. Montessori said that “work on the land is an introduction both to nature and to civilization.” Our garden work has not only given our children a connection with nature but also with the community in which our school is located.
What Comes Next
Students are now ready for the challenges of high school. Arbor students flourish in the transition from Montessori to traditional schools, both public and private.