History is governed by those overarching movements that give shape and meaning to life by relating the human venture to the larger destinies of the universe. Creating such a movement might be called the Great Work of a people. (Thomas Berry, The Great Work)
Preparation for Adult Life: Seeing Individual Courses as One Great Work
Maria Montessori called her syllabus for ages 12-18 a "Preparation for Adult Life," implying that the student must make a connection between learning and living a purposeful adult life. The developmental question that many high school students ask when experiencing learning out of the context of life's lessons is, "Why do I need to know this?" Montessori High School directly encounters this question with its blend of study and experience which prepares the student for the transition to adulthood.
Montessori High School will be coordinated by six to eight full-time teachers in science, language arts, foreign language, social studies, social science, and mathematics aligned with the Montessori syllabus (see more detailed description below). In order to provide a wide variety of options for personal interests, the school will engage specialists from the University Circle institutions.
In Montessori terms, a specialist is an adult who helps the high school student mature through possessing real life skills and an inspiring role in society. The specialist demonstrates what it means to be competent, confident, and immersed in a specialty that to some degree helps define how a positive identity forms. Montessori High School considers each community adult who acts as a specialist to be a mentor who takes special interest in the student, allowing the student to share in real responsibilities (not tokenistic work) and actual decision making (not mere following of orders). The student is integrated into the University Circle community through this mentoring relationship with the specialist.
The Role of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum in Montessori High School
When students and parents choose to enroll at MHS, they may reasonably be concerned about college admission. MHS is a new, innovative high school concept and the college admissions process is rooted in traditional, subject-based teaching. For this reason, among others, MHS has chosen to incorporate the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB), aligning it with Montessori principles of education. IB is well known throughout the world for its rigorous, creative curriculum, especially with its DP, or Diploma Programme, for the older level. MHS will have IB certification and will offer internal and external IB assessments to all its older level students in every area. It should be noted that the IB diploma tests are an option for individual students, not a requirement, but the IB academic and developmental elements are part of the Montessori integrated experience for every student.
Additionally, MHS has chosen to work with IB because of IB's emphasis on global education. IB insists on a global and social emphasis in every area of the course of study. This resonates deeply with Maria Montessori's ideal for children to "know the world"-not just the corner in which they live, but the much larger world where they can see that all peoples at their core are essentially universal in their need for human solidarity and positive production and exchange.
For course descriptions, click the appropriate age level: