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As our children become adolescents, they enter what Maria Montessori called the stage of a ‘social newborn.’ This presents itself in the form of a new sense of self-awareness and a concern with their societal role in life. This is when children are developmentally ready to broaden their range of experience within a community as passionate, engaged members of society.
The student has moved through the Absorbent Stage of the mind from birth to age 6, the years of 6-12 in the Reasoning Mind Stage, to the adolescent and teenage years of Social Newborn. They need to explore many different adult-like roles that genuinely contribute to society and their immediate community in order to learn what their role is. Freedom and independence are given as the young adult is understanding the boundaries of themselves and the adult world.
At RPMS, our students are offered a myriad of opportunities to have economic and social independence, see human interdependence, and be part of a harmonious social environment.
“Maria’s concept of the Social Newborn comes to play in our curriculum at Rogers Park Montessori in many ways, but our annual week long internship program for 8th graders in the Spring really pulls it into action,” says Matt Volk, Middle School Teacher. “The students go outside the school to put into practice the skills they have mastered throughout their elementary experience. They are excited to take the academic, theoretical, and social learning out - to work for political candidates and social justice causes; colleges and universities; local and national businesses; in architecture, design, production and manufacturing; legal and medical fields, and all sorts of different jobs in the real world.”
They also broaden their range of experience within their communities, where they explore fairness, justice, their communities, and friendships. “This year we have three 8th grade students who are very passionate about social justice and have been nominated for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center Student Leadership Day,” explains Geordie Jones, Middle School lead. “As Montessori educators, the prepared environment now encompasses the world outside the classroom, outside the school, through opportunities to explore and nurture the passionate beliefs that are emerging.”
"The whole life of the adolescent should be organized in such a way that it will enable him, when the time comes, to make a triumphal entry into social life – not entering it debilitated, isolated, or humiliated, but with head high, sure of himself. Success in life depends on a self-confidence born of a true knowledge of one’s own capacities; combined with many sided powers of adaptation."
Dr. Maria Montessori