By Rose Langridge – Humanities & English teacher
I think we can all agree that there is a lot of the time where we are switched on to the world – often through emails and media, be it news or social. There has never been a time when our ākonga have not been around technology… facebook is 18 years old (don’t worry, I was horrified myself). Deciding who you wanted to be without all these constant factors was not easy for us, but evolving “into you” with all these pressures is a whole new world for our ākonga.
This big work of deciding where and how you will be in the world is the job of the adolescent. This is known as a sensitive period. Teens are needing validation, a chance to be independent but also feeling incredibly vulnerable and their self-confidence takes a nosedive. At this time when they are trying to navigate this world, they are also developing their sense of justice, their sense of belonging and their independence. As I said, big work.
When someone is given the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential then according to Montessori the result is a “valorization of their personality, making them feel capable of succeeding in life by their own efforts and merits”.
(2008) Page 64 “THE MONTESSORI SERIES VOLUME 12 FROM CHILDHOOD TO ADOLESCENCE”
We have many things within the program that help ākonga to move away from this outside world and focus within. As well as working on how they can be meaningful members of the community (reflection, creative and physical expression, community meetings, community work, working alongside many adults). I wanted to reflect on the things that they do for each other, just because. This is when I think the real learning happens in those incidental moments where they are learning to be contributing members of the community.
These are just a few examples that I have observed over the last few weeks. The level ones are planning a massive market at the moment. A group was meant to be making their product – one of them had to go home sick. This meant that suddenly one person was having to complete all of the work. Instantly without being asked two people joined them and gave their morning to helping (and in doing so giving up their independent work). Someone had some really hard news and they were instantly taken by friends to another space for comfort. There were no qualms from teachers just an acknowledgement that this time was needed. Later in the day another member of the class came up to them and offered them a snack saying that they hoped it would help and that they always carried comfort snacks in their backpack. Their altruism and the fistbumps along with the genuine thanks to each other is so wholesome (to use a teen phrase).
This may not be the timetabled learning but I think that the environment we have in the High School where ākonga have the freedom of working alongside others, so often is in fact the most important learning that they do.