By Allyson Ashfield – Kawakawa Teacher, high school
Do you know why the weekly timetable in Kawakawa has the elements it does? I certainly didn’t when I first saw it a year ago!
Kawakawa’s timetable is based on Maria Montessori’s Plans of Studies and Work, (Childhood to Adolescents, Appendix B). It provides the plan for the perfect prepared environment within which the adolescent can develop, as in this plane of development (12 -18 years) they are ‘social new-borns’. The two-part plan consists of ‘The Moral and Physical Care of Boys and Girls’ (or if you like, the practical considerations of social organisation), and ‘The Educational Syllabus’.
Together these two parts meet the adolescents’ developmental needs of:
- participating in production and exchange,
- involvement in the use of the land and
- working with head and hands
- psychic development including moral development and
- preparation for adult life through general education topics
Micro-economy affords the opportunity for production and exchange, working with head and hands and of course self-expression and Occupations allows for meaningful work to take place (often involving use of the land also) as at the end of the unit there is a benefit to the community. An example of such a benefit this year, is the orchard, which students have developed, where working with head and hand has taken place. Maths, languages, micro-economy and community meeting all aid in psychic development and occupations and humanities aid in the preparation for adult life. Community work forms part of the moral development aspect of the plan. A final timetable component is reflection, which allows for quiet time when the brain can wander in thought and give time to processing.
It is important to recognise that self- expression is a primary developmental pathway for adolescents, as this is the age of identity formation so is interwoven throughout the week in all elements of the timetable, as are all the developmental needs. However, Wednesdays are dedicated to self-expression and the adolescents currently get to participate in the following options: music, art, drama, hard technology and education outside the classroom.
The Plan of Study and Work is just one part of the Montessori philosophy, which is needed to ensure the development of the adolescents’ needs, with the aim of creating fully normalised adults who will emerge capable of contributing to society.