Middle school ushers in a new level of independence, which is defined in the Montessori environment by increasing activity from the point of view of work level, choices, and planning.
In the middle school, the Great Lessons, timelines, and charts are replaced with overviews of general sequences of learning for which the student becomes responsible in the context of an integrated whole. Within this overview, the student has open time to collaborate on both self-initiated and instructor-initiated projects.
Open time allows for individualized instruction, a natural pace for absorption of material presented for both mastery and emotional understanding, unlimited depth of pursuit based on student interest, and release time to study art, science, music, business, and other topics students choose.
The general premise for the adolescent program is that it must bring into consciousness the moral and world view of the elementary years. Philosophical ideas related to natural history and cultural history now come into play. Great Lessons evolve into great ideas derived from a serious approach to the humanities. For example, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" may be tied to a specific part of American history, but this ideal also has a life in the history of philosophy and literature.
Consistent with the moral relationships stressed in the elementary program, the adolescent can make great cognitive leaps while integrating ideas and values in conjunction with current events, home life, or community activities.
Service programs such as volunteering in the community , farming as an entrepreneurial venture, and apprenticeships or mentorships in the workplace are part of an advancing "going out" that gives the adolescent a combined vocational and liberal arts curriculum with a particular emphasis on economic enterprise.