Playing Their Role in Society:

The Adolescent Need for Social Action


“The essence of this social life is work…in this sensitive period he is prepared to take up his part in the social life of humanity.” —Maria Montessori


Adolescents are uniquely suited to address the critical issues of the world. Only by directly experiencing the complexities of society and working in a global community will adolescents develop an authentic understanding of the human condition as their social and moral selves evolve.


To avoid cynicism and depression about the future, the adolescent needs to feel part of the solution by their efforts to solve one problem at a time. When a group of Montessori students from different parts of the world collaborate they become advocates for what is true human progress. This is their developmental task. Each year the International Montessori Summit will choose one topic; for 2013 the topic was Creating a Just and Sustainable Food System. Through preparation in advance of the summit and through collaboration at the summit, students develop a comprehensive understanding of a global crisis and pose sustainable solutions. The socially-minded and morally-conscious community of youth support critical reflection, empowered optimism, and social action.


“Social life is not sitting in a room together or living in a city. It does not regard social relations. The essence is that something is produced that is useful to the whole of society.” —Maria Montessori