Welcome to the Erdkinder program at Bluffview Montessori School. “Erdkinder” means “children of the earth,” Maria Montessori’s term for young adolescents preparing to engage in the larger world around them. Erdkinder provides a unique educational experience for junior high school students, blending elements of more conventional academics (grades and homework) with a learning environment based on the principles of Montessori education.
The Erdkinder Experience
Goals of the Erdkinder Program
- Provide a learning environment where adolescents are respected and appreciated
- Support a sense of community in which students refine their ability to recognize one another as valuable people
- Self-directed, active learning
- Nurture independence and interdependence
- Provide a diverse and integrated curriculum
Components of the Erdkinder Program
- Independent work time is provided daily; students balance freedom and responsibility through structure and measures of accountability.
- Multi-age learning (7th and 8th grade students work together)
- A balance of lessons and work time; lessons are provided in small (1-10 students) and medium (10-20 students) sized groups.
- Individualized learning based on each student’s readiness to learn.
- A curriculum that meets state and federal education standards.
Elements of the Erdkinder Curriculum
- Interdisciplinary lessons and projects
- Connection to natural environment and community
- Self-expression and creative expression
- Peer teaching
- Constructing and creating own assignments
- Service to others and community
- Small group projects and work
A foundational concept of the Erdkinder program is occupations. Occupations are a source of meaningful work valued by the community. It is work that challenges the adolescent physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is work that is recognized as authentic, honorable work done with integrity and vigor. Occupations satisfy the need to belong and to be valued, and provides continued motivation for academic study.
Curriculum topics include the following:
Social studies. Organized in cycles. Students cover state social studies standards according to themes and not necessarily chronologically.
Language arts. Studies involve literature, writing process, discussions, public speaking. Students study a different novel each trimester. Students respond to texts through journaling, class discussion, and presentations. The language arts curriculum also includes weekly vocabulary and grammar work.
Mathematics. The math curriculum focuses on pre-algebra and algebra, using textbooks supplemented at times with manipulative materials to cover the Minnesota academic math standards. Students work alone, in pairs, and in groups to complete daily work, quizzes and projects.
Science. Science is mostly in-class work. Topics are introduced and students work independently or in groups to complete laboratory experiments and projects.
Cultural studies. Students also study art, music, physical education, and health. (see the Special Programs page for details). Immersions Immersions are more than field trips. Immersions:
- foster a sense of community and new relationships between students, their teachers and the environment
- provide students an opportunity to develop independence, interdependence and self-reliance
- allow students freedom to act on individual initiative with limits and rules providing necessary guidance
- foster power of self-adjustment to new environments
- help students understand their place in the world
- provide opportunity for students to challenge themselves academically, socially and physically
- During immersions, students keep journals which may include lecture notes, interviews, research, sketches and daily written reflections about their experiences.
Examples of immersion experiences include:
Internships. Students create resumes, learn interview skills and phone etiquette, select and contact businesses in their area of interest, and spend two days interning with that business.
Farm experience at Lake Country Land School. This immersion offers students a unique experience in a rural setting, engaging them in the life and work of a farm. Includes integrated academics and physical work.
Play. This is drama experience supports adolescents’ need for self-expression. All Erdkinder students participate in producing the play. Students work in groups to undertake all technical aspects of production, including scriptwriting, directing, props, set building, and costuming. Additionally, students advertise, create programs, and organize concessions.
“My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams, earning a secondary diploma, and proceding on to university, but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity, through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual.” Maria Montessori