Our vision for the adolescents in our care is that they will leave the Young People’s Community as intelligent, thoughtful and compassionate young adults, who love their world, and who feel within themselves both the desire to contribute to it and the power and capability to transform it. The main focus of the work is on the challenges of your child to constantly self-mastery and be the best version of self, exceeding the “limits” of the set curriculum. Our main task is to support each adolescent as a complete and unique human being with many different aspects – intellectual, psychological, spiritual. Your child’s experience so far often takes him beyond the required academic standard. Most important is the ability of students to be motivated and self-directed in their learning, which allows them to master the content of the program with relative speed and ease. Our work with students is guided by three principles that have had special currency for learners: holistic learning, intercultural awareness and communication.
The adolescent must never be treated as a child, for that is a stage of life that he has surpassed. It is better to treat an adolescent as if he had greater value than he actually shows than as if he had less and let him feel that his merits and self-respect are disregarded.
Dr. Maria Montessori
Preparing for Adult Life
Adolescents are prepared for life
“Your child benefits from a strong academic program with an emphasis on helping students to be independent in their thinking and take ownership of their own learning. The young people are given the time, space and resources to pursue study to a high level. Тhe emphasis is on cultivating the student’s capacity and motivation to be independent and lifelong learners. Our experience is that passion is what fuels the pursuit of knowledge. Since each student is unique, and passionate about different things at different times, the emphasis of our approach is to create an environment in which students have freedom to pursue their interests, under the mentorship of a guide/teacher who ensures they are growing in intelligence, skills and knowledge. There is an atmosphere of delight in discovery; that knowledge isn’t a burden but a privilege, and that learning is fun. Guides/teachers offer lessons to individuals or small groups, based on their interests, needs and capacities. These lessons are typically (though not always) related to work for which your child is showing strong interest and engagement and allows her to go further and deeper.
Students are well prepared for external examinations, often progressing early to 7th grade. They go beyond what is usually expected of adolescents. Visitors often comment that the academic atmosphere is more recognisable as a university environment than as a school. The educational environment provides opportunities for research, practical inter-disciplinary projects, self-reflection and assessment. Your child will be assisted in his development by a highly qualified and dedicated team with extensive teaching and life experience.”
Following the global programme, Otkrivatel offers students opportunities to develop their potential, to explore their own learning preferences, to take appropriate risks, and to reflect on, and develop, a strong sense of personal identity.
Interdisciplinary Learning Involves Research and Collaboration
The broad, balanced, conceptual and connected curriculum enables learners to be inquirers, to explore and research, communicate, apply concepts in real life. Learning by doing and applying knowledge from a range of disciplines provides students with the context to create and make sense of learning.
The young people prepare our garden for cultivation, clearing out vegetation, laying bio-degradable mulch sheets and high-grade compost over the quadrant.
The young people manage the kitchen budget for their community. From time to time they also help the other children in the preparation of meals, library management and classrooms maintenance. Naturally they also lay the table for lunch, serve and clean up.
Various young people are involved in minor repairs around the building – repairing chairs for the Children’s House, fixing door latches, putting up shelves, or repairing windows. The young people work alongside trained adults to manage the building and the yard and associated habitats to promote biodiversity, maintain and renovate the buildings, preparation of food.
The broad, balanced, conceptual and connected curriculum enables learners to be inquirers, to explore and research, communicate and apply concepts in real life. Learning by doing and applying knowledge from a range of disciplines provides students with the context to create and make sense of learning.
The young people learn how to participate in a community, and how to work with others towards shared goals. It is an intensely social age, and through discussion and conversation they discover their own views, hear other perspectives, and learn through daily experience how to work with others to solve the problems of daily living within a community. The young people are involved in decisions relating to most aspects of their daily life including budget management. Each week the community meets to discuss the events of the week gone by and the week ahead, and other matters related to community life.
At their weekly meetings the young people discuss the events taking place in their own and the wider community, bring both opportunities and difficulties before the group, celebrate each other’s achievements and hold each other accountable. They learn through experience the benefits and limitations of the democratic process.
The kinds of things the young people are responsible for includes:
- Maintaining the buildings (from cleaning toilets to repairing windows etc.)
- Coming up with business ideas, making money and managing budgets
- Resolving issues to do with community life
Naturally all of this is under the guidance of adults, but the key message is that the Young People’s Community is THEIRS. Visitors often remark how much of a sense of ownership the young people show – that they genuinely see this as being their community, and understand that it is they who are responsible for its success, and their happiness.
A description of the practical functioning of the community follows.
Social Organisation Is a Vital as a Micro Cosmos
Developing social and economic independence
The young people run a business that sells a variety of products and services. They grow and produce from our garden. The young people participate in the day to day operations of the school as it is their school. The students engage in projects that go beyond the curriculum and help them rediscover and develop their strengths, with key findings and practical experiences supporting inter-cultural thinking, positive leadership, critical thinking, creativity and finding alternative solutions.
The young people write fiction and non-fiction pieces. The focus is on quality rather than quantity. We take a Writers Workshop approach to developing their skill in writing. The Guides/teachers help the young people choose topics and formats to write in and gives craft lessons to build their writing skills.
Fiction pieces include poetry and prompts from paintings. Non-fiction pieces include journaling, memoirs, book reviews, arguments and thought pieces. In grammar we work with sentence analysis. There is much practice in analytical reading through text-based seminar discussions. Debates and drama feed spoken language expression. Your child is introduced to a wide range of artistic techniques. From soapstone carving and linocut, to batik, wax on silk, tie-dye, 3D drawing, and clay. Artists come to share with us their work in textile and electronics, and in natural dyeing. The young people sale some of their artwork, and bring much beauty and love to their decoration of their work, study and living spaces. In music there is a strong interest in music technology where much progress has been made. Lessons are given in music technology, guitar and piano. The young people put on a drama performance at least once a year.
Sports as a Mean of Physical Self-Expression
Psychology and needs
The primary developmental drive adolescents have is to enter into adult society. They are extraordinarily focused on understanding what it would mean for them to be an individual within adult society. This focus means they are driven to explore who they are on the one hand, and what society is, on the other. At that period many physical and psychological changes happen. These make them fragile and delicate, that’s why our program is designed for the needs of adolescence and to help nurture, protect and guide our next generation through these exciting and challenging formative years.
The adolescents need work, but not any work, but real adult work that requires dedicated efforts, collaboration, applied discipline and association. Through study and work, they try to clarify burning introspective questions such as ‘Who am I?’, ‘What am I good at, or for?’, ‘How has mankind come to this time and place?’, ‘What does the future hold for our world?’ and ‘What is my role in this future?’
Adolescents have a deep need to affirm their value, to feel that they have a necessary and meaningful contribution to make to their group. Usefully harnessed, this manifests as an urge to collaborate with others on real work – work that is needed and makes a difference.
The creative urge is especially strong during adolescence. They are naturally drawn to the use of art and other forms of self-expression to shape and reshape their ideas of who they were, who they are becoming and who they are now.
Adolescents have a heightened propensity to take risks and expand their boundaries. As the next generation of adults in a society, this is a developmental characteristic that would have, over the course of evolution, served human groups well. If not understood and channelled this can be an area of conflict with well-meaning adults in their life.
Adolescents reach for autonomy and control over their own lives. They prefer to spend time alone or with their peers. Yet though they may not show it, they still need the support of their family. At the same time, they seem to belong to two families – his own and the future unknown family.
A capacity for economic independence emerges during this period, bringing together their growing strength and skill and the physical and intellectual independence earned during childhood. The adolescent’s capacity to contribute economically is deeply intertwined with their developmental goal of entering society.
Otkrivatel School follows the Montessori pedagogical philosophy by supporting the child’s individuality, the freedom of the child’s spirit and their curiosity to seek answers of the most fundamental questions in life, under the guidance of experienced teachers. In addition to studying academic subjects, the students develop knowledge about life and the Universe, the strength in teamwork, common values, how to distinguish the good in people and in different situations. The students are encouraged to think outside of the box, to equally develop all of their talents, here they grow up with the idea that the world is full of opportunities and is up to them to turn these opportunities into something significant. Otkrivatel is a school for daily intriguing discoveries that guides the learning process through experiences and the personal journey of each student.
Dima Chakarova, mother of girls, age 9 and 13