A PROPOSED CURRICULUM

 

FOR A

 

SECONDARY SCHOOL

 

 

BY

 

TOM SWART

 

 

 

 

MAY 2005

 

 

Consciously embracing life’s journey…

 

A PROPOSED CURRICULUM FOR A SECONDARY SCHOOL

Consciously embracing life’s journey…

 

 

VISION

 

In line with Montessori philosophy, we envision loving and creative individuals who are spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically independent:

 

-       individuals who contribute holistically with integrity and respect in their own unique ways to society and the environment;

 

-       visionaries, continuously developing their skills for life long learning;

 

-       people who understand the physical and mental connectedness of life;

 

-       passionate, adventurous beings embracing consciously their life’s journey.

 

 

WHENCE THE CURRICULUM?

 

PRINCIPLES:

Maria Montessori wrote: “The years between 12 and 18 see the children become humanistic explorers, seeking to understand their place in society and their opportunity to contribute to it.”

 

She believed that secondary schools should prepare children for life, not just for university and a career.

 

Humanistic exploration”, “understanding one’s place in society” and “contributing to society” are the three Montessori principles guiding the curriculum.

 

The fourth guiding principle is: “discovering one’s talent(s)”.

 

The fifth principle supports the four above: “achieving mastery” – the mastery needed to achieve the four principles above, and ultimately the Vision:

 

Consciously embracing life’s journey…

 

 

CONNECTEDNESS:

Our curriculum draws from other philosophies, writings and curriculums:

 

1. ‘Erdkinder’

Maria Montessori has outlined a plan for this environment in a pamphlet titled “The Erdkinder and the Function of the University”. In the section dedicated to the Erdkinder, the three pivotal elements included are a farm, a hostel and a shop. These are the bare bones of an environment, which can become rich, versatile and productive and, as the need arises, may expand into a veritably self-sustaining working community. Side by side with an academic education suited to young people who have gone through ‘the advanced method’ mentioned by Maria Montessori, this multifaceted environment will provide for young adolescents, side by side with academic instruction, apprenticeships in a variety of arts, crafts, trades, professions and vocations taught by experts in their field. Young people of this age, therefore, are not condemned to the anxieties of intellectual achievement as an ultimate end. They can continue to make purposeful use of ‘the hand – instrument of the intelligence’ thereby not only enhancing their intellect but, more pragmatically, enhancing their possibilities. The self-assurance acquired will allow them to develop hardiness and equanimity with which to face life’s vicissitudes.

 

2. The Writings of Tim Seldin:

Seldin is one of the international leaders in Montessori education as Chair of the Montessori Association in the United States. Consider this view on secondary education:

 

“Our society has left behind the rites of passage that once facilitated the child's transition from childhood to full status as an adult. By design, a Montessori high school is a carefully prepared environment that helps teenagers master the secrets of the world of adulthood: how to act appropriately in given situations, earn a living, understand everyday law and economics, and how to express love and friendship. Students are accepted by the school community as adults-in-training.”

Excerpt from "Adolescence Without Tears. Montessori High Schools" by Tim Seldin.

 

3. The Sustainability Imperative:

The writings internationally around environmental and social sustainability challenge the way people selfishly and greedily –

  • do business;
  • share power;
  • use techno-scientific developments;
  • become ‘haves’ at the expense of the ‘have-nots’.

 

As a challenge to this, age-old values like honesty, selflessness and compassion are re-emerging at every level and in every sector of society. This comes out of a deepening spirituality that goes beyond dogma.

 

In essence, the imperative says that we have to consider the inter-connectedness of ‘person’, ‘people’ and ‘planet’ and the way we make ‘profits’. No one of these may take precedence over any of the others.

 

Here we draw from successful sustainability projects internationally that have taken seriously the admonition to “walk lightly on the Earth”.

 

One such project is the Sustainability Institute of Prof. Mark Swilling in Stellenbosch where a sustainable community has established an environmentally-friendly workspace, schooling process and residential area that recycles its waste, uses renewable energy, all in a people-friendly environment.

 

4. Humanist Psychologists:

Humanist Psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Erik Eriksen encourage the fulfilment of one’s needs as a means towards actualising one’s potential in a spirit of co-operation and inter-dependence.

5. Curriculums from Successful Montessori Secondary Schools Internationally:

We can glean from best practice of other Montessori secondary schools, internationally, like:

 

  1. a.Athena Montessori College, Wellington, New Zealand

An inner-city school that uses all the city’s resources – library, sports facilities, etc.

 

  1. b.Clarke Montessori, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

The first Montessori Secondary School in the USA, it is also located in a city.

 

  1. c.Knysna Montessori Secondary, South Africa

The first Montessori Secondary School in South Africa that follows the ‘Erdkinder’ approach of Maria Montessori.

 

6. The South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

The NQF gives practical expression to our Vision. Its Critical Cross-Field Outcomes all point to the types of mastery a learner needs to achieve (see Appendix 1).

 

 

THE CURRICULUM IN PRACTICE

 

THE CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK

Learners will follow the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) Curriculum, leading to the IEB Further Education and Training Certificate (Matric). The learners have opportunities to learn well beyond the curriculum, and extend themselves in areas of interest and ability, in order to achieve mastery.

 

General Education and Training Certificate

Learning Areas

Grade 7

Grade 8

Grade 9

English First Language

IsiZulu / Afrikaans Second Language

Mathematics

Natural Sciences

Social Sciences

Technology

Economic and Management Sciences

Life Orientation

Arts and Culture

Further Education and Training Certificate

Learning Areas (6 required fields)

Grade 10

Grade 11

Grade 12

English First Language

IsiZulu / Afrikaans Second Language