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Maria Montessori (wikipedia.org)
34 points by krigath on Aug 31, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments

I went to a Montessori school for four years (K through 3rd grade).

It was horrible. I wasn't expected to do anything. Most days were spent bored to tears.

There was no oversight of the teachers; in fact the principal herself was the "teacher" for grades 1-3.

We were expected to keep a journal of our activities and show it to a teacher at the end of each day, who would sign it and let us go home. (The point was to encourage us to do things, rather than nothing.) There were two teachers on duty each day (the principal and her assistant) so I would simply lie; I wrote "did X at 9:34AM" "did Y at 10:53AM" etc then forged the assistant teacher's signature and showed it to the principal, who dutifully approved it (or vice-versa). Since there were about 60 kids and 2 teachers, there was no chance of them noticing.

A classmate intentionally smacked me in the head with the edge of a metal shovel and got off with a light warning, even after my parents came to explain the severity of the situation.

The activities that you could do in 1st grade were exactly the same as those you could do in 3rd grade. The next "transition" (room with different activities) was grade 4.

In my experience, the purpose of this particular Montessori school was to be a daycare, not to educate.

It was just awful. I'm not saying all Montessori schools are awful; I'm saying the one I was forced to endure was awful.

Sorry to hear that, I was lucky to spent my early years in a awesome Montessori school. The principal was probably responsible for it's success, she was a visionary. When I finally went to an ordinary school it felt like an overpopulated prison. On the bright side, everything was so easy, it was like vacation on a shitty environment.

As everywhere, incompetents are attracted to situations where evaluation is non-traditional. Especially when they get to use a sophisticated label for themselves and get away with abusing the term.

Sorry your experience sucked so badly. I hope someone fixed that school.

There is no trademark protection for the word "Montessori" so any school can call itself that. Do you know if this school was accredited?

I can't think of a more anti-Montessori environment than one where it's possible for a student to lie about daily activities. The central focus of a Montessori teacher is observing and directing students.

In Maryland in order for a school to call itself "Montessori" it has to be approved by some national Montessori association. The sole purpose of this seems to be to make money for national Montessori associations.

My daughter went to a Montessori school for pre-K. Based on my observations of the school it was great for pre-K and K, but awful above that. There were a lot of the same problems you describe. Half the kids seemed to have ADD and parents opposed to medication. Groups of kids tormenting others so that the class will consist only of their group. And teachers that just stand by and let this happen. And in my case, the owners of the school were complete idiots.

Still, for that year in pre-K my daughter got a great education.

Standards vary widely, in part because of the lack of trademark protection mentioned above. It's critically important to observe in person before sending your kids to any "Montessori" school.

We've sent our daughter to Montessori for a year and a bit, and it's been a joy to watch her blossom. We're moving soon, and keeping an eye out for a Montessori school that goes up to 6th grade.

Agreed. The business of "Montessori Schools" and the teachings of Maria Montessori are often two very different things.

Google reminds us today that it is Maria Montessori's 142nd birthday. Having gone to a Montessori school for seven years of my life, I believe her philosophy should be more adapted. It encourages creativity rather than emphasizing only on attainment of knowledge, both of which I believe are essential in the world we live in.

Some friends of our's had a kid who transferred into a Montessori school after a couple years in regular school.

This extremely well behaved child (I wish my kid was as calm and well behaved) came home every day stressed out about how he was rated behaviorally - kids either get put in red (bad), green (normal), blue (very good) and the teacher never put him in blue. He never said anything about learning.

So they moved him to a Montessori school and when he came home, he excited about what he learned or did that day at school.

This anecdote led my wife and I to enroll our child in the same school, her first day was yesterday. I really hope my kid comes home excited about what she accomplished and learned as well.

I was a very mediocre and uninspired student in primary school, often getting Cs and Ds. My parents enrolled me in a small Montessori school for grade 6 and my whole attitude changed. I was back in public school for junior high, but I was getting A/A+ across the board. Looking back (nearly 30 years), it was the most significant year of my education.

It's not that it enabled me to do well in conventional school (I suppose I would have qualified as gifted if I wasn't so extremely lazy), it's that it gave me an enthusiasm for learning and a realization of the broad horizons that were open to me.

I also find the school system of ancient Greece[1] quite interesting. They had a very high focus on physical fitness, which I believe is very important for mental clarity.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_ancient_Greece

The reasons are clearly stated. Mental clarity is not one of them. Not even as a by-product.

Athenian: "Physical training was seen as necessary for improving one’s appearance, preparation for war, and good health at an old age."

Spartan: "The pursuit of intellectual knowledge was seen as trivial, and thus academic learning, such as reading and writing, was kept to a minimum. A Spartan boy’s life was devoted almost entirely to his school, and that school had but one purpose: to produce an almost indestructible Spartan phalanx."

"men sana in corpore sano", my dad used to say :)

High school in Austria is called "gymnasium".

In this first classroom, Montessori observed behaviors in these young children which formed the foundation of her educational method. She noted episodes of deep attention and concentration, multiple repetitions of activity, and a sensitivity to order in the environment. Given free choice of activity, the children showed more interest in practical activities and Montessori's materials than in toys provided for them, and were surprisingly unmotivated by sweets and other rewards. Over time, she saw a spontaneous self-discipline emerge.

My 2 1/2 year old is in a Montessori toddler program in Salt Lake City and the school is fantastic. At that age, kids are encouraged to work independently and learn at their own pace. Their 'toys' are what they call 'works' and are designed for learning. He's happy to go to 'school' every day, and I feel great having him there. We were fortunate to find a very high quality Montessori school for him.

Like nearly everything in education, this is woo. We have almost no evidence for any intervention, even in mainstream approaches to schooling. We still largely hold to the absurd idea that if a school environment is intuitively appealing, it will be effective in providing a lasting benefit to the pupil. This is of course a baseless irrational belief.

Education does not need more opinionated "humanitarians". It needs randomised controlled trials, and lots of them.

is this supposed to be a TIL post ?


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