Today the Adolescent Program students embark on their class trip to Washington D.C.. The annual AP trip is a time to bond, share experiences, and extend their academic lessons into the greater environment. The class trip also serves as an important means for our adolescents to experience the residential life that Maria Montessori found so critical for adolescent development.
Montessori believed the adolescent straddles two worlds: that of their known nuclear family and that of the “future family of which the adolescent is the father, builder, center.” (A Social Newborn). In other words, the adolescent is leaving childhood—which is centered around the nuclear family—to be reborn into adulthood, where they will create their newly independent life. Montessori envisioned the ideal environment for this rebirth as a boarding community, where the new “family” would form and allow the lessons of approaching adulthood to unfold in a safe environment.
Since our Adolescent Program does not offer boarding, class trips are designed to fulfill the need for residential life. These trips push our AP community experience beyond the classroom and into the rhythms and flow of daily life. Our adolescents learn to balance other’s needs and desires with their own as they live with roommates, decide where to eat dinner, and choose activities. They learn to listen and compromise. They learn that, sometimes, we have to make decisions based on the good of the community, rather than on personal preferences. These lessons allow the adolescents to practice the skills they will need to build their “future family.”
Both our AP students and our guides return from the trip with a new understanding of our world, our community, and ourselves.