Posts tagged Jenny Hoglund
Deep Dive on Social Organization

Deep Dive on Social Organization

Submitted by Jenny Höglund

“Social organization” is spoken of in Montessori primarily at the adolescent level, since it is a central component of the work of that level; it is the thread that ties many other principles together.

The way in which a society is organized is going to change as children move through their development. The idea of social organization is a continuum. Ever-growing groups with an expanded feeling of belonging. It all begins with love between parents and child.

For the first plane (0-6) we speak of a ”society by cohesion”, where the group is bonded by love.

Children are parallel individuals working in the community. The young children work in their environments, side-by-side. They are kind and helpful. They do not work together but, rather, for their own development. Social cohesion in the first plane is focused on the inward construction of the self.

The second plane children (6-12) practice society, and the group is bonded by work still constructing themselves as individual. However they are group-oriented; they work best when they can work with peers. The work and the development of the intellect bonds them socially.

At the third plane (12-18) they need live society bonded by adult work of production and exchange. They develop a realization of their individual role within a community, and they experience of interdependence. Someone who knows their individual place within the context of an interdependent community.

It is a continuum. The 12 year old is not the same as the 18 year old but they are all adolescents.

Needs and characteristics are the same but they manifest themselves differently.

12-14 (period of preparation); 14-16 (period of blooming); 16-18 (period of perfecting) is one way Montessori describes the plane of development.

“The school of the erdkind covers all the period of puberty up to 18 years. During the last two years, it is necessary to assist the pupils in preparing for university…” -- From Childhood to Adolescence

Because of the needs and characteristics of the third plane, adolescents require a certain kind of living in society. In order for this society to function well and to provide the opportunity of adolescents to achieve social and economic independence, there needs to be some kind of organization or structure. All of that is their social organization. We prepare the environment according to the Plan of Work and Study. Various forms of activity should join this establishment -- half-hearted effort will lead to failure. Work in the store, hotel, and farm will complete the whole. This is the work provided to offer the key experiences of adult life. There is a birth of a new social being, that of the adult.

In the third plane, they are living society, they experience responsibility and consequences because of the level of the work. This work cannot be contrived; as soon as it is contrived, it is not real work, and there are not real consequences. Real work and real consequences.

One important aspect is that there has to be work for everyone, so that they know they are part of a community. They need to be able to get to know one another. Now, society is built up by various activities and not only by purely intellectual ones. The greatest element in its construction is the growing sentiment of the conscience of the individual, which develops through and by means of social experiences.

The fundamental mechanism of society, that of production and exchange, on which economic life is based,  comprises the elements of social life.

There is a social practice of production and exchange (all the social components that go into production and exchange) are the key experiences. Inherent in production and exchange is morality, connections with others, interdependence. Production and exchange provide work through which the adolescent experiences interdependence and morality.

“We have reached a stage in our social organization that makes it impossible to live in nature. Of necessity, each and every one of us depends on the work of others and is obliged to work for others.” ( San Remo lecture p. 12)

What should be present is work that gives them the experience of working for others and depending on others. Our social organization must provide this experience of adolescents. Real work that implies division of labor. Food production as an example. They must do something that someone else depends on.

An ownership of accountability that is not imposed by adults, so that if someone does not fulfill their obligation to the community, the community holds that person accountable without the adults intervening. This must be a “measurement of life.” You are an essential cog in a working community. There must be sacrifice on the part of individuals.. Work is sacrifice for the community. Work should be experienced as a contribution to the community.

The freedom in the third plane is the freedom of the community to run their own community life.

The purpose of social organization in the third plane is a constructive activity that contributes to self-construction. What makes it distinct from adult social organization is that in the third plane social organization is still in a prepared environment. Adult life is an unprepared environment.

It has to be lived and cannot just be a lesson on morality and values. Morality has to be experienced; it can only exist in a social context. This fosters discipline and association and supports the need for personal dignity and justice.

Adolescents understand the strengths of their friends, and they do not ask more of them than they can handle. They are not looking for equality. They can respect the differences and the needs of others. Equity is more inherent in social organization - or should be.

Where the children live gives them the opportunity for social experience, organizing for comfort, order, maintenance, financials, etc. They need to be really doing it (freedom from family).

They have to have the experience of building supranature, of transforming the earth, so that they can see that they make a difference. Our hope is that they do make a difference when they go out into society. Adolescents need to have experience of shaping their environment, and we have to provide that for them.

The qualities/characteristics of social organization:

  • Morality, “a form of adaptation to a common life for the achievement of a common aim” (“Moral and Social Education”) Discipline

  • Interdependency (division of labor)

  • Work that contributes something to the community

  •  Interaction with various adults, experiences adult life and work

  • Production and exchange - their economic independence lies in the fact that they, as a community, have a choice about how to earn and spend their money

  • Association -- individuals in association with one another (relationship)

  • Mixed age groups

  • Freedom and responsibility -- choice within the parameters of the organization

  • Duty -- because they are part of a community; duty to the community and to oneself

  • Self-discipline (the extension of joyful obedience within the social context)

  • “Adaptability -- this is the most essential quality.” -- p. 61 appendices -- have to be able to move along with the change of or within the elements of social organization (as explicated in the Plan of Work and Study)

    • Continuing progress to the world and the link to supranature -- we adapt to our changing environment by change it and changing ourselves

  • Build-up of love -- love of the community, love of the environment, and love of the self

    • “This man has genuine qualities -- love, which is something different from attachment; discipline, which is something different from blind submission; the ability to relate to reality, which is something different from flights of fancy.” -- p. 88 Education and Peace

Julia RichardsJenny Hoglund
Deep Dive on the "Prepared Environment"

Deep Dive on ”The Prepared Environment”

Montessoriskolan Lära för livet on the Farm

May 4-6, 2018

Host: Jenny Höglund


Attendees:      Baiba Krumins Grazzini  (Trainer AMI 6-12, Italy)

            Lars Brunborg (OAS, weekly access to farm, guesthouse, 12-15, Norway)

            Paul Pillai (OAS, AMI 0-3, 3-6, residential with land, UK)

            Roman Klune (OAS, urban with access to land, 12-18, Austria)

            Ivana Baborova (OAS, urban, 12-18, Slovakia)

Lesley Patrick (OAS, parent, former house parent and co-ordinator of adolescent community)

Sasa Lapter (OAS, AMI 6-12, residential with garden, 12-15, Austria)

Zorian Patrick (alumni, 22 years, farm experience with boarding)

Jenny Höglund (host)


Observers:      Arlette George (OAS, AMI 3-6, parent, Scotland)

            Tor Hylander (alumni, 18 years, 4 years on the farm boarding)

Sven Burger (OAS, urban, 12-18, Germany)

Ida Arnesen (OAS, AMI-6-12, farm with boarding, 12-16, Sweden)

Karl Brun (OAS,  AMI 6-12, weekly access to farm, guesthouse, 12-15, Norway)

Gabriela Jiroskova (OAS, urban, 12-18, Germany)

Nina Willwock (OAS, AMI 6-12, administrator, Germany)


Scribe: Karolina Spodarzewska (OAS, AMI 6-12)



The Prepared Environment

One of the two pillars for a Montessori approach


We are dealing with what belongs to the child (the psychology) and what is around the child – the physical environment, the social environment – the prepared environment


What is the goal? Optimal development


Physical environment requires a group of people

The adolescents get their feedback from peers, animals and plants –this takes away from the personal confrontations between adolescents and adults

A prepared society (adolescent community) – from which to leave and move out to an unprepared society

The materials are implements of adult work



Aspects to consider:

·       Basic social aspect – community life, experience society, school of experience in social life, living together away from the family, life organized around the needs of the adolescents, responsibility to others (social),

·       Deal with reality – plants, animals, the reality of adult work, adolescents take a reality check, adult quality to what the adolescent do,

·       Nature vs. Supernature – transforming the environment

·       Environment as the teacher – feedback, control of error

·       Solititude

·       Be away from their family – a must, to get away from the roles superimposed on them

·       Self-expression, vocational apprenticeship (experts coming)

·       Economic independent – shop – appreciate work, time, effort, knowledge, discuss money, decision making with consequences, natural cycle – the prepared environment gives the full cycle (e.g. the farm and selling potatoes), responsibilities to others, have a proper perspective of money, ‘temptation’

·       Adults – not only teachers!, as materials, adults share the role of teaching, side by side work, experts, adolescents get a sense of pride working with them, with many adults easier to see how the world functions as a whole, interconnectedness, but also the stability of a community, not just about specialization but needing all the different experiences, all work is noble, houseparent, farm manager, all work has its dignity, all work is valued

·       Freedom – essential freedom to be part of the decision making of how to spend money, morality, all about the relationship with money, a community thing as well as an individual thing,

·       Practical Life Independence

·       Appreciating order, organization. A society is not a collection of individuals, that is why *organization’ – social organization

·       Protection – no pressure from parents, teachers, etc.

·       A place for study – developmentally based education, aid to life – as a means, study connected to hear and now, part of the independence is not to limit oneself to what the teacher says or what the text book says

·       For everyone! Special needs

·       Ownership – taking care, looking after, love of the environment through practical work

·       Museum of Machinery

·       Enough students to create the work, generate the work, offer more work – challenge, opportunities to make decisions,

·       Kitchen, work shop, land, house, barn, shop, guest house, laundry room

·       Mixed age-group in all areas


After exploring many different environments and their usage the group understands why Montessori suggested a farm.

The most important thing is that you need an ongoing reality – a farm with boarding offers that, developmental need to be part of a community. It offers one more dimension, without the farm the work will only become projects, one after the other. There is a cycle in nature and in super nature – the possibility to see a project through in a real way and not just a project constructed by the teachers.

Instead the prepared environment should offer a new way of life.

The farm is the laboratory, the material, reproducing the experiments when evolution of knowledge, story of the disciplines

It is when you do not have farm that you run into problems, because you lack the materials

The farm is the work of super nature, the story of human work, humanity – man as the transformer of the Earth, thus the farm is the constructive aspect necessary (Camillo Grazzini), the bridge between nature and super nature, all the necessary aspects are covered by the farm.

If there is no farm, it is only nature (land based) and that does not work for the adolescents

One cannot live on a ship, cannot transform the sea

Self-expression – farm, guest house

Each element of the social organization provides material, tools

There is also refinement of the senses – morality – self-expression prepares to change the world, powerful tools

Self-expression for yourself e.g. diary, poem

Self-expression for the masses, the expression of the group

Vocational – living on the farm provides many different job experiences, finding out what one is capable of

Deep Dive on Characteristics of an Adolescent

Characteristics of the Adolescent

(based on Laura Marchioni’s lecture in Milan in March 2018)



Changes in body – in different stages – the preparation, the blooming, the perfection

There are very intensive changes, which can be compared to the changes the new born has to go through. But the new born needs to change rapidly and the adolescent does not change with the same speed. Instead it is a long period of change, six years approximately.

Now the adolescent needs to complement his education, which does not pay attention to the physical and psychological needs of the adolescent.

As the body changes, as there are physical changes, the body concentrates on this and therefore the adolescents do not have the energy left to focus on study.

Physically the adolescent is weak, thus the need of open air and a different environment, an environment that offers practical work to strengthen the mind and the body.

There is a complete change of the individual, but it happens step by step, one part at the time.

Nature works with change gradually and only reaches its goal at the end.

Today we know that many illnesses have their origin during the period of puberty.



(Here Dr Montessori uses the same terminology as Carl Jung.)

Change of the psyche, there is a psychic unrest, a confusion and acting without reason.

There are emotions the adolescent himself do not understand.

The adolescents have very delicate minds.

This needs to be paid attention to because it will determine the future use of his intelligence.

The personality develops very quickly, important that all aspects of it develop equally.

Intellectually the adolescent seems weaker, which is because of the great physical change taking place. Intellectual work is not suitable for this period in time, therefore important that the intellect is satisfied in the previous period. But, the adolescent needs to practice what has been accomplished and learned earlier, what the adolescent is prepared for.

There is a difficulty to focus, to concentrate, an unwillingness to obey (all typical of the second plane child). But we must not judge the adolescent.

There is a longing for a new life, a grander life, but the adolescent does not know anything about this new life.

The adolescent is not yet aware of who he is and what he can do. He needs help to get to know himself.

He must not be addressed or treated as a child any more. He is in a new stage of life.

(Cf. Winnicott)



Wants to free himself from the family, must overcome the relationships which is there in the family and move on, so that nature can reach its goal. This is necessary for the adolescent.

The adolescent does not yet know his destiny.

Seems rebellious, but is confused and needs to orient himself to a new environment, a new world.

The adolescent is sensitive to the views of others. He tries different emotions, behaves irrationally, tantrums and isolates himself.

He belongs to two families – one that he knows (his own family) and one that he does not yet know, his future family.

A becomes a new being, who will live for others, sacrifices himself, etc.

This is now a social man ready to step by step take part in the organization of society.

The adolescent will experience that his society is a product of the work of civilizations.

There is a calling for the adolescent to participate in this life. He thus needs a larger environment, a society, as well as a larger community. Through experiences in a society, a community, the adolescent will get to know what his task will be and what he is called to do.

It is therefore important that the development of the adolescent’s personality is supported so that it can develop and the personal and social identity is constructed.