Adolescent Curriculum

In the middle school classroom, students continue to develop physically and intellectually while establishing their sense of social order. The goals of this developmental period are social, moral, cognitive, and emotional.

Social Development

The school environment provides a ‘staging area’ for community interaction enhanced by an outdoor environment. Not just a deep rooting of belonging in the school environment but also to the “larger economic, ecological, social, political, and spiritual elements”…a “community to which the adolescent feels he or she both belongs and contributes.” Here the student learns:

  • to live in relation to others and through conflict resolution;
  • how to make a contribution;
  • community interdependence and cooperation among peers, adults, and the rest of the world;
  • benefits of an active role in society;
  • the beginnings of social consciousness;
  • understanding of work and it’s importance for economic independence and interdependence;
  • balancing individual initiatives against community goals; and
  • rules and their purpose in harmonious living within a community.

Moral Development

“The philosophical adolescent mind, which has already experienced the Great Stories of evolution in the Montessori elementary program, can easily intuit that humans must all choose a way of life and ecological identify compatible with the rest of biological existence–past, present, and future.” Here the student learns:

  • respect for others and their roles;
  • a sense that work is noble with the assumption of adult-like responsibilities;
  • grappling with social and moral problems, such as the right use of the natural environment or the ethics of science;
  • individual initiative and commitment to freely chosen work;
  • pleasure in individual progress that enhances group progress and contributes to others;
  • development of a mission orientation and service to the universal needs of a larger humanity;
  • to ask big ethical questions; and
  • a conscience exercised by community values and responsible dialogue.

Cognitive Development

The curriculum is divided into three parts: (1) opportunities for self expression, (2) formative education which establishes character, and (3) general education as preparation for the adult life.

musicmoral educationearth and living things
languagemathematicshuman achievement and technology
artlanguagesmigrations, exploration, human settlement, government, and civics


Here the student learns:

  • personal expression integrated within a variety of artistic, speaking, musical, and media modalities in direct relation to occupations and role development within the community;
  • philosophical consideration of questions of nature and cosmos;
  • analysis of scientific causality in the natural world and the cosmos;
  • increased understanding of the mathematics directly connected to the practical needs of the…environment and to the symbolizing of scientific observation of data;
  • increased facility in a variety of languages and the ability to use language to penetrate different cultures and improve human understanding;
  • ability to connect the history of life on earth and its civilizations with principles of the evolving self as well as the social evolution of a human community;
  • a view of the whole history and the future destiny of humans, and reflection on the individual contribution one makes to the creative direction of the future; and
  • understanding of the nature of interdisciplinary studies, the relationship between the disciplines and the totality of the natural and human-built worlds, and the available tools and technology to continue the inquiry as to how knowledge can be best used.

Emotional Development

Dr. Maria Montessori emphasized the need to strengthen self-confidence, sociability, and sense of dignity and justice. Here the student learns:

  • to connect with the revelation of the innermost “vocation” of the soul, a sense of mission or commitment to one’s work and life;
  • understanding of the connection between personal vocation and the “vocation of man”;
  • feeling of self-sufficiency, of self-confidence, of taking care of self and others;
  • inner harmony and happiness due to personal contribution, love of work, love of study and achievement, and a personal participation in the work of society;
  • hope of future world progress;
  • joy in seeing the relationship of one’s own life with the history of human culture, recognition of the importance of being a keeper of human culture;
  • freedom in spontaneous collaboration with others in a harmonious connection with the natural world;
  • feeling that human life has value and a role to play in the cosmos–a feeling of triumph;
  • feeling of belonging to the world human community and to the earth;
  • feeling of personal discipline, creativity, beauty, and productiveness in connection with the learning of hand-crafted art and practical achievement;
  • feeling that one can be in control of change, internally and externally, in one’s personal and social evolution;
  • feeling of usefulness and ability to adapt; and
  • belief in the human capacity to solve problems and in the spiritual source of life to overcome adversity.

Kahn, David. “Philosophy, Psychology, and Educational Goals for the Montessori Adolescent, Ages 12-15”. The NAMTA Journal, Vol 28 No 1. Winter 2003.

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