Montessori recognised that as teenagers enter puberty they undergo great physical changes and therefore require similar attention and understanding as the toddlers in their first three years of life. She also felt that they need education which helps to develop their practical skills further and helps them in managing their daily life independently. Therefore she advocated a co-educational boarding school for these children, where their learning has both academic and practical focus. For example she advocated that children should learn to make pottery and grow vegetables and fruit, and that they should also learn about running a shop to sell their creations and about marketing of their produce.
In this way she believed that academic/theoretical knowledge and understanding will be reinforced by practical application and provide young people with a wide range of practical skills. She outlined her approach to education of teenagers in a chapter in her book From Childhood to Adolescence which she entitled Erdkinder – the Earthchild.
There are very few schools which follow Montessori’s ideals for secondary education fully; however there are many schools around the world which take the basic principles of the Erdkinder vision and combine practical experience with the academic work, meeting the local education requirements which prepare the children for University education. Many of these schools operate on farms where children engage in looking after animals and generally helping on the farm.
Montessori training for secondary teachers has been developed in the United States to prepare adults who wish to work with young people following the Montessori Erdkinder principles. Click here to find out more.
There is also a Montessori Gymnasium in Amsterdam, funded by the Dutch government, where young people benefit from the Montessori approach to education until they are 18 years old.
There is no Montessori secondary school operating in England.
The Montessori Schools Association manages a database of Montessori schools in the UK. Find out about a Montessori school in your area..