Imagine you are an elementary student and you are working with a peer to write a report on a topic of interest. After you have used all of the resources available in your classroom, and you still want more information where can you go? Why should the information stop within the four walls of your classroom? In the Montessori environment, students are given opportunities to expand their knowledge with the outside world. This comes with responsibility and many steps needed in the process. We call this a “Going Out.”
The tendency for a child to explore takes a new direction during the elementary years. Children 6 to 12 years old will not operate properly in the environment prepared for a child in the first plane of development. The new environment must be prepared for the next plane of development, and include the society both inside and outside the classroom walls. Going Out means the actual physical going out of the child into society.
The process of going out gives the child the experience of being within the larger society. It also helps to develop free will, as the child must make choices within that greater environment. Further, the elementary child has a deep desire to know the hows and whys of the universe, which cannot be contained within the classroom. Going Outs gives the child the ability to experience this greater world.
By giving the elementary child the opportunity to conduct going outs, we are providing them vital experience gained:
- how to speak on the phone to someone you don’t know
- how to plan out transportation and departure times
- how to ask for help from the driver and chaperones
- how to interact with people when in public (social grace and courtesy)
The process of planning the Going Out is just a valuable as the outing. The students independently come up with an idea of where they would like to go in order to further their study. Next, they check in with their teacher and follow a planning sheet that guides them. After being presented on how to use the classroom phone, they contact the going out location directly to get details (cost, hours, etc.). The next phone call is to contact and arrange a driver to take them on a Going Out. As mentioned above, much of the “work” is done before actually going on the trip.
Trips to the library are one example of a going out, but destinations range from farms to museums and everywhere in between. Students choose topics that are of interest to them and relevant to their studies. This freedom to explore topics in-depth allows students to take their understanding further than in-class studies allow. Goings out differ from a traditional field trip because they are self-directed. The process of planning the going out provides the child with real-life experiences. One of the great components of a Montessori environment lies not within the classroom but in the ability to go outside of the four walls.
Written by Nina Noorzad, Head Guide in the Adobe Classroom. She has been teaching at SCM since 2014. She works in our elementary program with 6 to 9 year olds.