The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Teenage Problems

In "What's wrong with the teenage mind?" researcher Alison Gopnik points out the essential "problem" of adolescence: teenagers are developmentally and motivationally ready and able to work, to engage with the real world, but we no longer make that possible for the most part.

Instead we warehouse them in endless classes where they must sit still and listen to adults tell them what to do and think. And our civilization is so rich that many don't have a real need to work, undermining their self-motivation to do so.  Also, parents feel they must buy their children what they want, disincentivizing them to work as well.

Having recognized these deep needs of the adolescent almost a century ago, Montessori argued that adolescents should learn their academic subjects while being in charge of the crops, animals, buildings, and living needs of a farm. She knew that responsibility for the lives of plants and animals would motivate them to get out of bed in the morning. That helping things grow would make adolescents feel competent and valuable. That these experiences would prepare them for full, self-responsible adulthood, while teaching valuable practical skills such as carpentry, cooking, marketing of goods produced on the farm, self-organization and time-management.

And we can see all these benefits in the Montessori farm programs around the country, such as the Hershey Montessori Farm School in Huntsburg, OH.

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