Interested in the International Baccalaureate program? Fond memories of Montessori education? The two have joined to create the perfect high school. Talk about a power house. Only three schools in the U.S. Currently getting lots of attention. A new hot topic.
Don’t concentrate on the negative.
The International Baccalaureate program has a reputation. You either love it or hate it. Most admire the design, approach, and program components. Many question the inability of the program to reach majority of students. Requires lots of money and enrollment is limited. Student access and funds. Two deadly words in education.
Other than that, the new high school, The Montessori High School, is creative, interactive, and project based. Beautiful. A dream come true. Only for a select few.
The challenge is how to make this type of program a reality for all students.
Schools, especially public schools, do not have the funds and resources to afford the small class size and extensive projects common to the International Baccalaureate program. Educators get discouraged and immediately dismiss the program. Understandably. But you can take parts of it with you. Nothing prevents a school from implementing an exciting student centered curriculum.
A few ideas that do not cost money.
- Environmental consciousness is an essential part of the the Montessori High School curriculum. Strong focus on students making a difference. Students, like adults, seek meaning in their life and want to know that what they are doing – Why do I have to do this? – is connected to their life. The environment is part of a student’s world and future life. They understand the connection.
- Elementary schools are “feeders” for the Montessori High School. Usually middle schools are feeders for high schools. With the open enrollment process in many urban districts, it is extremely difficult to find elementary schools that are able to feed high schools. This doesn’t mean that an elementary school and high school cannot have a relationship and learn from each other.
- Project based, collaborative, cooperative learning are always popular with students. They are never bored. Engagement, hands-on involvement, connection to a outcome and product. Works at all levels of education. Why do we keep searching for new ways to work with students when students have told us what they enjoy and how they learn best?