The Erdkinder level (ages 12-18) continues the work of the elementary, but focuses on the implementation of human interdependency with the natural world. Adolescents begin to merge the history of the universe, the cultures of man and governments with skills currently acquired through academic pursuits and work on the land. Students have greater opportunity for hands-on environmental work, technology, and commerce. They are more independent and self-motivated as they develop life skills for an emerging society.
Working on the land is an integral part of the middle school curriculum. Organic gardening, environmental practices in the school environment, and studies in sustainability combine academic studies with practical life on a community and whole world level. The middle school campus houses classrooms, meeting space, a commercial grade kitchen, and gardens. In addition to a permanent staff, there are guest instructors such as carpenters, artists, geologists, writers, naturalists, etc. who lend their expertise to students involved in ongoing projects.
Maria Montessori suggested education at this level in three areas:
Study of the earth and living things:
Study of human progress and the building up of civilizations:
- history of civilizations/explorations
- humanities – art/literature
- higher mathematics – algebra/geometry
Study of history and humankind:
- scientific discoveries
- relationship of humans to environment
- government/law/global economics
- oral and written communication
In the elementary years, children enter the realm of the abstract. They imagine, see patterns in math concepts, and understand historical time. In the middle school years, students use abstract concepts and apply them to the real work of addressing societal issues such as maintaining sustainable resources, achieving harmony through diplomacy, working cooperatively to explore new ideas, understanding global economics, and gaining a deeper appreciation for the gifts and talents of all individuals.