The History of Adolescent Guides Gathering at the Montessori Farm in the Czech Republic.. because the ‘Why?’ is most important.
When our non-profit organization Andílek was founded, little did we know about the needs of the adolescents, Maria Montessori’s vision of the prepared environment for young people, and about the farm.
It feels like ancient history. Way back then, Andílek was a family center. Our mission was to support young families in their quest to raise children to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Today these challenges seem to be even bigger than before when our work started.
The family center turned into a school, and the school continues to focus on the child and on how to prepare him for his life in these complex times. Alongside the school, we started a teacher training organization called Montessori Institute Prague, with a single vision: to support Montessori school Andílek in achieving its vision.
When young families with their little children first come to our school, we take them to observe in our toddler community – the class for children from 1,5 years of age. We explain to them what makes our school unique and how we support children on their journey to fulfill their potential. We offer them a partnership lasting 14 years, starting in our toddler community and ending in our adolescent community.
Under one roof their child will be able to transition from the toddler age to the primary age, later to lower elementary, and to adolescence. We show parents all of our environments, we introduce our guides for all ages, and as a final step, we invite them to visit our Montessori farm.
We explain to them at the farm that this final educational environment offers their “one-day-adolescent-to-be” the safety and security and at the same time real-life challenges that they will need to face, in order to grow and one day become an adult. There will be a social group of classmates and guides, there will be indoor and outdoor environments that allow physical work hand in hand with others, and there will be many opportunities for their adolescents to use the already gained functional, intellectual and moral independence.
We help parents envision their child’s journey toward fulfilled and meaningful life leading from the toddler environment, through kindergarten and elementary school, to the farm. We offer our support all the way.
We are very proud and at the same time very grateful that we can do this: that Montessori school Andílek hand in hand with Montessori Institute Prague together is able to offer children learning and development in environments from age 1,5 to 15 years.
You can hence imagine how important it was for us that we were able to invite an international group of 28 teachers from 14 countries of the world to take the first Montessori Adolescent Orientation Course held at our school’s farm.
Some came and lived with us at the farm. Some rented rooms in nearby pensions and biked to the farm every day. All participants came to learn from the world-renowned Montessori Trainer, Jenny M. Höglund from Sweden.
Take a look at our photo gallery from the week to get a sense of the atmosphere of learning, sharing, and connection which we experienced in the environment of the farm.
The lectures of the course took place in the opened farm barn and from there it was broadcasted online on Zoom to other 60 participants, some from the farthest ends of the world. We had participants from every continent represented, and we interpreted the course from English to 5 languages: Czech, Romanian, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. The Czech interpreter Irena Kubantová commented that it was the first time in her life that she interpreted out of a former goat shed which now serves as storage for all kinds of farming machinery.
During the week we discovered a nest with three baby birds in the wall of the barn. And as the week progressed, they grew strong and managed to fly out toward their independent adult lives, very much like adolescents do when they finish their adolescent program.
To much amusement of course participants, all lectures were observed by goats whose shed neighbors the barn. And some of us bonded with our goats in the most amazing way.
The amazing course trainer Jenny Hoglund was accompanied by an AMI Trainer in Training, Lesley Ann Patrick from England and we also had two guest lecturers, Karl Bruun from Norway and John McNamara from the US.
We learned about the needs of the adolescent, about how human tendencies manifest in the 12-18 child, about the prepared environment, prepared adults, the meaning of work, the work of the hand, production and exchange, and how to build a community in a social organization, about math and language curriculum, about independence, technologies and practical experience working with adolescents. There were many opportunities for discussions and sharing too.
We cooked a typical Czech goulash on fire together and we taught our international colleagues how we bake sausages on fire. And when we began to be really tired, one of the participants of the course volunteered to lead a wonderful “yoga in the barn” session and we stretched and regained our energy. We also worked side by side, caring for our farm environment.
Participants of the course bonded together in the most beautiful way and they created a FB group so that they could stay in touch with each other.
All of that took place in the environment of the farm, the learning environment of the adolescent, who is the embodiment of the philosophy of Maria Montessori, surrounded by nature, and, very importantly, served by adolescent students of our school who cooked for us, 40 adults, amazing vegetarian meals all week long.
The course is over now. Yet, the impressions, the feelings, the atmosphere, the connection, the knowledge, and the experience still resonate in our minds and hearts. Something remarkable happened at our farm last week. And we are very grateful it did.
Sincere thank you belongs to my dear colleagues Plamena Koleva, who coordinated the event onsite, and Tomas Danek, who was present online the whole time. Without both of these wonderful hard-working colleagues, the course would not be possible. Together we coordinated the hybrid online and onsite format and managed to support a group of 85 learning adults.
Also, a wholehearted thank you must be expressed to Simina Serban and Richard Sherwood, who turned out to be natural-born adolescent guides and tireless volunteers.
For more information about our activities, go to: