Our goal is to provide activities and a prepared environment that will create focused engagement or flow for each adolescent student. (‘Flow’, the optimum state for learning and well being from Dr. Csiskszenmihalyi: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.) A student who is focused and engaged is drawn to use and repeat activities that allow him or her to gain mastery. A class of multi-ages can be set up to operate on the autonomous self-direction of the students guided by the ongoing observation and assessment of their teachers. Self-direction supports a student’s engagement in the activity, engagement that maximizes learning, mastery and a sense of well being.
The curriculum, activities and prepared environment (the physical environment, the schedule and the role of the adults) must be responsive to, and optimize the characteristics of these youth.
- Tremendous growth Physical activity, movement
- Sexual maturation
- Boundless energy
- Physical activity, movement
- Relaxation and contemplation
- Healthful eating and sleeping habits
- Developing self-awareness
- Emotional unevenness
- Self-critical age
- Meaningful work
- Opportunity to contribute to society
- A chance to plan activities, make decisions, be leaders, make mistakes
- Solidarity with peers
- Identification by gender and ethnicity
- Critical of each other and adults
- Humanistic age
- Moral and ethnic age
- Seeks increased independence
- To build community
- Reliable and close relationships with peers, and with at least 1 adult
- To feel psychologically safe
- To become socially competent
- Thinking and critical age
- Capable of mature thought if framed within personal context
- Creative age
- Opportunities to creatively express their interests, thoughts, emotions
- To learn new frameworks for thinking
- To acquire flexible and inquiring habits of mind
- To develop a personal vision
Interdisciplinary and Personally Meaningful Program
The adolescent has boundless energy but that energy is pulled in many, many directions. In order to tap into the adolescent’s energy and natural tendencies, it is imperative that the academic component of their experience be tuned to their needs and tendencies.
Adolescents are capable of mature thought if it is framed within a meaningful (to the adolescent) context. They are critical by nature. They wish to have opportunities to think for themselves and to be responsible, and yet they cannot be abandoned. They want their work and efforts to be meaningful. They need to be supported; they need to be challenged.
The e1 curriculum is based on personal experiences and integrates all subjects into a meaningful investigation in order to meet these needs and characteristics. This curriculum builds throughout the year and incorporates opportunities for all academic disciplines and skills. Basic concepts are always related back to the adolescent’s experience of their own time and culture. The resources of the community are explored and choices made based on the requirements of the Ontario curriculum and the goal of helping the adolescent stand in their own space and know that they are there.