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Princeton Montessori School’s 8th grade students travel to Ireland
Ireland was selected as this year’s destination in part so that students could experience first-hand some medieval monuments and sites in conjunction with their year-long medieval history studies.
The first stop upon arrival is the Medieval Quarter of Limerick followed by various cathedrals and castles and other sites of interest throughout Ireland. During each day’s sites, one of the students acts as the tour guide and presents the other students with a hands-on and interactive lesson about that particular site. A culminating activity on this trip is the chance to spend most of one day on an Irish farm on the Dingle Peninsular and help to milk the cows, gather honey, tend the vegetable garden, and end with an Irish afternoon tea.
Preparation for each lesson is the students’ classroom research work, but that is not their only preparation work. Throughout the year, students prepare for the trip in many different ways. During the summer prior to their trip, they have to earn a significant portion of the trip money by finding and documenting paid work. In weekly preparation classes, they learn simple phrases and the monetary system from guest speakers who either speak the language or know the country well. They sample various foods from the country they will visit. They learn how to pack a week’s worth of items into a very small bag and how to make sure their passport is safe at all times.
A few weeks after their trip, students present what they have learned in a multi-media format to their parents and guests during an evening symposium. Each student will make and serve some Irish cakes and desserts for this year's event.
Princeton Montessori School’s 8th grade students depart for far-off lands with their teachers and classmates each spring. The trip destinations vary according to each year’s history cycle of either ancient, medieval, or American history. Prior destinations have included Athens, Rome, London, Prague, Peru, Mexico, Savannah, and the Oregon Trail, among others.
Michelle Morrison, Middle School Director, sums up the reason for taking such a trip each year: “A trip like this is responsive not only to the needs of the pre-adolescent, who is seeking independence while simultaneously seeking belonging, but also for the time we live in, where the workers of tomorrow will need to be fluent in multi-cultural perspectives as well as comfortable with global travel and connectivity. Montessori education has always been about merging those two needs.”