July 3, 2022
What is a Montessori Odyssey Trip?
The Clanmore Montessori Middle School students, grades 7 and 8, have embarked upon a journey this school year that is now a Clanmore tradition – The Odyssey Trip. This year’s trip began with an information session for parents and students at the end of last year and again at the beginning of this year to discuss trip details and to start the preparations.
On the first day of school the children came with items from the packing list they received in the summer. They came ready to learn how to pack dry bags and set up the tents so that when they arrived at their first night’s destination, they would be independent. Clanmore Montessori Middle School Teacher Kristina Wright said that they got busy right away organizing their food: snacks, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. On the trip they will get a chance to ‘run a day’ and to really get involved. To plan together, lead together, map together and be responsible for one another for the 8 days over which the trip takes place.
An Odyssey trip is usually longer than a week so the children can see the cycles of nature and get a real feel of living with their peers and learning from one another. It’s an adventure out of their comfort zone. It’s a roller-coaster of new experiences, weather, coming together and sticking together.
The Odyssey Trip explores historical and remote locations like the French River, honouring the people before us and following in the footsteps of an ‘average worker’, voyager and early fur trader. It’s the telling of stories around a campfire of how history was made and having the children turn towards the river… imagining a birch bark canoe laden with fur traveling down that same river that they had just paddled down that day. Last year the students visited the French River Trading Post on their last day.
Throughout their trip the students study Economics and the early settlers’ economy and how they made their livelihood. It’s Physical Education along with Outdoor Education. It’s exploring Geology and examining rock formations.
An Odyssey Trip takes the place of what Maria Montessori called the’ farm school’- a boarding school located on a farm. Clanmore Montessori School is not a boarding school, so this is one of the key objectives of the trip, a chance for the children to find themselves and their place within their peer group, to establish their roles away from family and to bond with one another.
Clanmore Middle School Coordinator Matt Smith said, “It was a natural breakdown of the roles last year… some became fisherman, others gathered wood for the fire, they made meals, mapped the route, navigated and decided when to stop and where to set up camp.” A collaboration within the group for a common goal.
From a Montessori perspective it is Pedagogy of Place, interacting with where you are from; your neighbourhood, your province, your country. An exciting time, appropriate during this “third plane of development” as the adolescent has the ability to abstract and to “examine that natural data of the community – the flora and fauna, the archives of the region, the architectural remnants of its settlement period, its diverse communities, each with unfolding histories”.1
Throughout the Odyssey Trip, the students will write passages in their journals about their experiences and they will reflect upon their exploration. In time they will share this adventure… perhaps a journal entry or two will follow in an upcoming blog!
1 David Kahn, The NAMTA Journal Vol.26, No. 3 – Summer 2001; Pedagogy of Place: Using the Prepared Environment for the Third Plane