Montessori 101

Montessori Vision

Montessori’s essential priorities involve creating an environment that enhances the adolescent’s ability to:

  • Find one’s place in society
  • Understand the connection between finding one’s place in society and the nobility of all types of work
  • Experience and learn the lessons of living in community
  • Believe in the dignity of humans and that the world is a place of hope and progression of the human spirit

As a Montessori school, we embrace Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision that ” a child’s work is to create the person he or she will become.” Thus, we begin with the end goal in mind – young adults who eagerly tackle academic and personal opportunities, who are compassionate collaborators, who engage in thoughtful research and critical thinking to actively solve problems, and who thrive as life-long learners.

Montessori Experience

At The Montessori High School, we expect our students to commit to our foundational values. These foundational values form the experience we wish our students to partake in.

  • Peace – We believe students should work to bring about peace within themselves, and within the world they enter into.
  • Community – We believe students should foster a positive sense of community. Our students believe “everybody does better when everybody does better.” Students strive to find their place within our community and within the world.
  • Kindness We believe students should strive to be kind. Kindness is the forbearer of compassion and is often refined through the practice of grace and courtesy.
  • Learning – We believe students should value leaning as a process; while knowledge is finite, learning is a foundational purpose of the human experience. Learning is achieved through good work, experiences within the environment, and dedication to self-improvement.

The Montessori experience is a holistic one. We strive to educate the whole person, working to help them refine skills and character traits that will aid them in all their endeavors.

MHS deeply respects each adolescent and believes that all students, through curiosity and guided exploration, inherently love to learn. A Montessori education balances freedom with responsibility, and sets high standards of intellectual, social, and moral development that is firmly rooted in the developmental stages of children and adolescents.

An atmosphere of joy is palpable from the moment you step foot in MHS. Walking through the classrooms, you will hear the cheerful buzz of students, and find a community in the true sense of the word  – adolescents who are learning to care for one another, and care for the environment – indoor and outdoor, which creates a feeling of “home.” Not only is the physical environment calming and beautiful, our sense of community provides security and stability for our students.

Montessori Academics

Montessori believed in the inherent importance of self-driven, rigorous, and structured learning. Montessori believed academic work should be purposeful. The Montessori approach to learning is much discussed, yet often misunderstood because it means different things to different people. The cornerstone of the Montessori approach is a respect for the adolescent as an individual striving for independence. The role of the Montessori teacher is to observe each adolescent carefully and to facilitate learning through the student’s own experiences. The teacher provides order to an adolescent’s learning, not to dictate what should be learned, but to help structure the process by which everything and anything can be learned.

“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” – Maria Montessori

“To aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator.” – Maria Montessori

Montessori also believed in the importance of academic rigor.  Our curriculum is representative of her vision for the fulfillment of a holistic education. Students in the upper levels of a Montessori classroom will be challenged to exceed typical expectations by stressing the importance of skills that determine lifelong success. Projects and lessons highlight proficiency in traditional areas, as well as social skills, community service, and care for the Earth.

Maria Montessori once said, “Do not permit a child to fail until he or she has a reasonable chance of success.” We expect that students entering our High School Program are ready to embrace the goal of success for themselves. In addition to the rigorous core classes (English, Social Sciences, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences), specific electives that challenge each student to rise to their own unique academic potential are offered during the regular semester and intersession, bringing a new degree of challenge and engagement.

We have the highest expectations of our students. We challenge them to perform academically and socially, rising to the call society has placed on them to be the change they want to see in the world. Our school strives to not only prepare students for their next steps, whether it be college or career, but to change the world and be positive global citizens with a profound sense of service and purpose.

The Montessori Learning Environment

  • A Student-Centered Environment: There is an emphasis on student’s learning, less on teachers’ teaching.
  • A Responsive Prepared Environment: The environment should be designed to meet the needs, interests, abilities, and development of the students in the class.
  • A Focus on Community Building and Cooperation while Supporting Individual Progress and Development: While the child lives within a larger community of children, each student is viewed as a universe of one.
  • Hands On Learning: In Montessori classrooms, students rarely learn from text or workbooks. In all cases, direct personal hands-on contact with either real things or with concrete models that bring abstract concepts to life allow children to learn with much deeper understanding.
  • Spontaneous Activity: Any true Montessori environment encourages children to move about, within reasonable limits of appropriate behavior.
  • Self-directed Activity: One of Montessori’s key concepts is the idea that children are driven by their desire to become independent and competent beings in the world to learn new things and master new skills. For this reason, outside rewards and attempts to create external motivation are both unnecessary.
  • Freedom Within Limits: Montessori children enjoy considerable freedom of movement and choice, however their freedom always exists within carefully defined limits on the range of their behavior. Students are expected to master the basic skills of their culture, even if they would prefer to avoid them.
  • Montessori’s Communities of Learners Mixed Age Groups: Montessori classrooms gather together children of two, three, or more age levels into a family group. There is support for the struggling student as well as academic challenge for the student to whom academics come easily.
  • A Family Setting: As children grow older and more capable, the focus is less on the teachers and more on the entire community of children and adults, much like one finds in a real family.
  • Cooperation and Collaboration, Rather Than Competition: Montessori children are encouraged to treat one another with kindness and respect. Insults and shunning behavior tends to be rare and not tolerated. We normally find children who have a great fondness for one another, and who are free from needless interpersonal competition for attention and prestige.
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