Author: Lesley Ann Patrick
The observation took place for a full morning in the environment dedicated to the students aged 12 – 18. There was interaction with the students, with dedicated staff members, and the Co-ordinator explained fully how Montessori adolescent theory is implemented in the school.
It was observed that up to the age of 16, students will follow a truly authentic Montessori practice combining academic studies with practical experiences. The school is in the process of introducing Cambridge examinations for the older students which is totally in line with Montessori’s guidance that students must be adequately prepared for whatever path they choose after school.
The school is currently offering a full curriculum with 45% study and 55% experiential learning. Bold efforts have been made to ensure that the indoor environments are true learning laboratories and not merely classrooms. The students are actively engaged in experimentation and making their own discoveries. The ambiance is one of collaborative learning with the community acknowledging its successful achievements.
Given that the school is located in an urban area, great foresight has been given to bringing opportunities for agriculture within the campus. There are myriad opportunities for the exploration of growing (vegetables, mushrooms) and many opportunities are provided for students to experience aspects of environmental science (rainwater harvesting, natural pesticides). The students are showing many aspects of good stewardship for their environment, and are restricted only by the small number of the group. This will change however when the size of the group increases in the near future.
Many opportunities are offered for self-expression so crucial for the age-group. There are facilities for art, pottery, woodwork and boat-building to name but a few. Consideration has also been given to the need for performance and an amphitheater space is available. Sports are catered for efficiently offsite with a great deal of choice offered to the students.
The need for production and exchange on the path towards economic independence is well integrated. Despite restrictive legislation regarding selling to the public the students have many opportunities to create businesses and experience keeping accounts. Snack stalls, fabrication of candles, leaf plates and cups, and wooden items, and fresh produce for sale, all contribute to the community economy.
Opportunities for cooking in a commercial kitchen are given on a regular basis. This provides another great preparation for adult life. Some possibilities are also made for students to have residential experiences by staying over in a social group prior to events. International exchanges are planned with other Adolescent Communities in order that the students realise their belonging to a global network.
Specialist staff are introduced where necessary to ensure high quality interactions with the students. Documentation of experiences is meticulous and the progress of students is recorded with clarity of detail.
As the first Montessori Adolescent Community in India, Pragnya is blazing a trail. Due to the minute attention paid to detail so important in meeting the needs of adolescents physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, the current students are in a very fortunate position. With the sensitive guidance of Chaithanya their developmental needs are being met in inspiring ways.
It is necessary that the human personality should be prepared for the unforeseen, not only for the conditions that can be anticipated by prudence and foresight. Nor should it bestrictly conditioned by one rigid specialization, but should develop at the same time the power of adapting itself quickly and easily.