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The programme inspired by Montessori for adolescents between 12 and 15 is called the Erdkinder, meaning ‘children of the earth’. Montessori’s idea was that, because of their vulnerability at this age young adolescents need to be in a nurturing environment on a working farm where they could be close to nature, breathe fresh air, eat healthy food and be free from the stress of academic study and exams.
They should also have time and activities to help them to explore and express their feelings. They should learn how to take responsibility for themselves by having to look after themselves within a community of other adolescents who have the same needs as them.
Study of subjects should be interrelated and emerge from the kind of things they need to do to facilitate their everyday life, such as increasing the production of milk in the cows and building a new chicken coop. They should also learn about money in a very practical hands-on way by running something such as a small kitchen business or guesthouse. Several of these communities have sprung up all over the world as a result of the pioneering work of David Kahn, chief executive of NAMTA and his team at the Hershey Farm School.
At 15 adolescents can then move on to the Montessori High School where they will extend their academic study with the help of experts such as might be found within a university setting and take a school leaving qualification such as the International Bacclaureate.
Read more about this wonderful approach to adolescence at: http://www.hershey-montessori.org