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Montessori Critics - Page 2

post #21 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
A parent might think that her child was not really progressing in Montessori because he was not drawing stick men and happy faces and other thing that, in a public school, he would learn how to do. In French public kindergarten, children are told EXACTLY what they must draw during the art time and they are not allowed to deviate!
I think the point you're getting at is very important, if I understand you correctly. There are schools where you can get your child to "achieve" more quickly, but that doesn't make it a great education. Often those children that start "achieving" more quickly in another program lose their love of learning more quickly, too.
post #22 of 52
thought i'd bring this thread back to life...

we just visited a public montessori school the other day and I am torn. At first I was so impressed, but now am having second thoughts.

I wonder if it is really appropriate for 3-5 year olds to be writing in cursive? That is how much of the work was done. The kids were using the counting blocks and counting into the thousands...is this a case of just "achieving" more?

I noticed the children didn't seem to be smiling, at least in the younger ages. I worry about my son, who is sooo social. How would he do in such an independent environment at such a young age?

Anyone have more criticism???
post #23 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bennifer View Post
thought i'd bring this thread back to life...

we just visited a public montessori school the other day and I am torn. At first I was so impressed, but now am having second thoughts.

I wonder if it is really appropriate for 3-5 year olds to be writing in cursive? That is how much of the work was done. The kids were using the counting blocks and counting into the thousands...is this a case of just "achieving" more?

I noticed the children didn't seem to be smiling, at least in the younger ages. I worry about my son, who is sooo social. How would he do in such an independent environment at such a young age?

Anyone have more criticism???
Cursive is actually easier to teach because it is fluid motions. That's one of those example, to me, about how some education mentalities get fixed in our minds ("printing, then cursive") and then it's hard to understand.

I do think the particular Montessori is important as is the personality of the child. When I toured Montessoris some seemed really cold, and then ours is a little warmer - still not what I would call "perky" though. But as a child who was over praised and now a person who still struggles a bit to find my own way in many ways, I kind of prefer that to cheerleading (not that it is that black and white, but if I have to err on one side, that's the side I would err on.)

My son really does like praise, and I worried a bit, but he pretty quickly learned to perceive the warmth underneath the calmness. If he hadn't though we probably would have looked for something else. I think I've said in other threads that the quiet was important to us because he gets overloaded with sound pretty quickly.
post #24 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspaghettimama View Post
Yes, this is true here too. I think I have an advantage though, as I've been in M school before. So I can ask specific questions. You can figure out what they're doing based upon the papers they bring home (we had a couple of months of metal inset work), if you've been in M or have been a teacher.

There's an open house once a year where the children show the parents their favorite works; but outside of that, I don't see a lot of outreach towards parents regarding work and the pedagogy. It's too bad, because I think many of the parents are in the dark about Montessori and would possibly keep their children in through the elementary years if they understood more about the overall approach. I think the language also creates a barrier - there seems to be a lot of montessori-specific terminology that is not explained adequately to parents.
For some reason, I find this to be slightly disturbing. I always know what's going on in DDs room because I'm in there at least once a week for different things. Her teacher also sends home weekly or biweekly updates on what's going on in the class. I think your experience may have more to do with the specific teacher or school than Montessori. The way I've been indoctrinated into Montessori stresses parent involvement in the school and the classroom and there are parents going in and out all day long.

I guess I never realized how widely M experiences can vary. DD goes to a public, racially and ethnically diverse school and we love it. Even the faculty is diverse. DDs teacher is from Spain via Puerto Rico and the IA is African American. The intern last semester was from Korea. The teacher next door is from South America and also has an African American IA.

I guess my family is really, really lucky.
post #25 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bennifer View Post
thought i'd bring this thread back to life...

we just visited a public montessori school the other day and I am torn. At first I was so impressed, but now am having second thoughts.

I wonder if it is really appropriate for 3-5 year olds to be writing in cursive? That is how much of the work was done. The kids were using the counting blocks and counting into the thousands...is this a case of just "achieving" more?

I noticed the children didn't seem to be smiling, at least in the younger ages. I worry about my son, who is sooo social. How would he do in such an independent environment at such a young age?

Anyone have more criticism???
That sounds like the school, not M b/c the 3-6ers at our school are so lively and social and often do works together and help each other. I also think the cursive thing is a bit over the top. I personally think that children that young would typically lack the fine motor skills necessary and it would be too much pressure for them.
post #26 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by MommyErin View Post
I also think the cursive thing is a bit over the top. I personally think that children that young would typically lack the fine motor skills necessary and it would be too much pressure for them.
That's one of the great things about Montessori, though. There is no pressure for the individual student to start cursive before he or she is ready. Since kids in a Montessori classroom work with so many materials designed to help them develop fine motor skills, they tend to be ready sooner than we think they would be.

One of the great things about introducing cursive when the child is ready for it rather than at some arbitrary age is that it seems like more of a natural progression to them. The school my daughter is at now is less strictly Montessori than her old one. Here, the kids don't learn cursive until grade five and she is seeing her classmates get really frustrated with having to completely change to writing after years and years of printing. For her, when she learned cursive in casa it was just a new challenge that followed naturally from mastering printing.
post #27 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowyowl View Post
For her, when she learned cursive in casa it was just a new challenge that followed naturally from mastering printing.
That makes perfect sense. I just think it would be quite an advanced young one doing cursive! My DD is a rather bright bulb and at 6, she still prints her "S" backwards! I can't imagine trying cursive with her just yet.
Your DD must be quite a young lady!
post #28 of 52
Well, her handwriting is nicer than mine

I'm not absolutely sure about this but I don't think her printing was 100% perfect all the time before she started cursive. It's more likely that she moved on to cursive while she was still perfecting her printing and the two developed alongside each other for a while. It's a bit like math. She still makes the occasional multiplication error but that didn't stop her from moving on to simple algebra once she was ready
post #29 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by MommyErin View Post
That makes perfect sense. I just think it would be quite an advanced young one doing cursive! My DD is a rather bright bulb and at 6, she still prints her "S" backwards! I can't imagine trying cursive with her just yet.
Your DD must be quite a young lady!

I'm certainly not M trained, but my understanding about the cursive, is that it is sort of self-correcting in its own way, because your finger/pen/pencil rarely leaves the paper or sandpaper letter or whatever. So... in a nutshell it is more difficult to make errors like writing your S backwards, b/c that isn't how the hand flows. Gosh, I don't know if I'm making sense. It has been so long since I wrote in strictly cursive (probably others as well). I've been practicing my letters though, and was amazed at how far down a word or sentence you get before lifting your finger or pen - made me realize how the cursive letters would actually be easier for my little guy to learn - it is all one motion and connects to the letter before..

As for the introduction of them, again it varies by school, but in ours, they may start sandpaper letters in their first year, but more likely not till their 2nd. They'll spend a long time just tracing out the letters in various ways. It is building up rote memory skills of how the letters feel/look/flow.

Anyway, back to the OP! I am a real fan of M school and had even decided before birth that if we could afford it my kids would go. My sis is a private school SLD teacher who read me the riot act about choosing a learning style before even meeting my kids! It turned out alright for us (so far - he is 3!) but I now see her point. Works for some, not for others and that is ok...
post #30 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrzos View Post
I'm certainly not M trained, but my understanding about the cursive, is that it is sort of self-correcting in its own way, because your finger/pen/pencil rarely leaves the paper or sandpaper letter or whatever. So... in a nutshell it is more difficult to make errors like writing your S backwards, b/c that isn't how the hand flows. Gosh, I don't know if I'm making sense. It has been so long since I wrote in strictly cursive (probably others as well). I've been practicing my letters though, and was amazed at how far down a word or sentence you get before lifting your finger or pen - made me realize how the cursive letters would actually be easier for my little guy to learn - it is all one motion and connects to the letter before..
That's what I found when I was working in special ed. It may not apply to all kids but for a number of kids cursive is easier; less to coordinate in terms of lifting the pen, setting it down in the right spot, etc. Probably a difference between a visual learner and a tactile learner.
post #31 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MommyErin View Post
I also think the cursive thing is a bit over the top. I personally think that children that young would typically lack the fine motor skills necessary and it would be too much pressure for them.
Most children in continental Europe learn cursive long before printing. At my DD's (French) school, the kids learn to write cursive at age 5, before they learn to read or print letters. The kids at that age seem to manage fine. It has always been done that way in the French system and no one seems to think it unusual.
post #32 of 52
This will be an interesting topic to read since I've heard very very few negatives about M schools. Two of my husbands cousins have done M schools and one of them felt that her older daughter did not do as well in the M environment (she feels her daughter was not self motivated enough) and she criticized the teacher for not "pushing" her daughter more. (She said that her daughter had a friend whom she spent all her time with socializing and did not or was not encouraged enough to get back to work or spend more time focusing on the activities.)

Of course, that's one mom's perception, but I found that observation interesting. She was not "high" on M school like a lot of M parents are, but she didn't knock it badly either. I think she didn't find it that much more special, and her younger daughter who did great is probably of the personality that she would be great in any school environment.
post #33 of 52
I like a lot about Montesorri but didn't choose it because of the emphasis on practicality vs. imagination. There is a tendency in montesorri schools to correct children and ask them to use things the proper way, as tools not toys.
So a child who turns over the small ironing board and says its a boat will be told its not a boat, its an ironing board and it goes right side up. They think children model adults and take their "work" seriously. I think that's true. I also thing imagination, open ended creative play, story telling, imaginary worlds, etc... are really significant and important to the development of children. Both waldorf schools and progressive schools make more room, in my opinion, for this aspect of early childhood. I'm not endorsing those schools, I'm just comparing the fact that some models make room for this type of play and I don't think Montesorri, on the whole, does.
post #34 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post


This is a strange one, and I'm sure it can't be a typical kind of thing, because I've never heard anything like this about any other Montessori school. But my friend's little girl - a very quiet and shy little girl - was punished in a popular little Montessor pre-k for eating her strawberries before the rest of her lunch. I think she had to miss her recess or some such thing. Pretty strange. My friend was pretty unnerved by it - I would have been livid. - Lillian
Ds's M school doesn't punish kids for this, but I do remember when he started going full day there was some emphasis on "learning" to eat your lunch properly and that included eating "desert" last. The director also wanted the kids to eat their crust on pizza day-- till the parents protested that Friday was the one day we didn't have to make lunch and we loved that so could the director just get over it?

My complaint is the rigidity in schedules. You know my complaint-- all four year olds have to go full day, but I know that not all schools have that policy.

Ds is 4 and has started cursive. I do think it is easier for him than printing.
post #35 of 52
My only complaint about M school is the dorkiness factor of the lingo/language. It gives the impression that they all (administration, guides, etc) take themselves so seriously. I just can't greet another person with, "Hello, friend." and keep a straight face. :

Overall, our school is pretty easy-going though, compared to some others I've heard about. The atmosphere is very open to parents. There is a required number of hours each family has to volunteer, a weekly "Community Gathering" (student assembly) where the kids get up and sing or whatever (by choice, not forced), and a "Commons" where parents can sit and chat all day if they want. I often stand outside DS's room and watch him through the one-way window/mirror in the door. We have had no issues with "secrecy". That would weird me out.

My DS is social and silly, and when I watch through the windows, it looks like several of the other 3 year olds are silly, too. (Imagine that!) They spend what seems to me like a normal healthy amount of time standing around chatting and being silly.
post #36 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bennifer View Post
thought i'd bring this thread back to life...

we just visited a public montessori school the other day and I am torn. At first I was so impressed, but now am having second thoughts.

I wonder if it is really appropriate for 3-5 year olds to be writing in cursive? That is how much of the work was done. The kids were using the counting blocks and counting into the thousands...is this a case of just "achieving" more?

I noticed the children didn't seem to be smiling, at least in the younger ages. I worry about my son, who is sooo social. How would he do in such an independent environment at such a young age?

Anyone have more criticism???
My daughter rarely smiles when concentrating on an interesting task. It doesn't mean she isnt' enjoying herself. She probably looks like those kids you saw most of the day yet she LOVES school.

Most of the criticism I have seen on this thread I have not seen in DD or in her school. She is excelling in just about everything, is busy busy busy at school and is learning tons. I am sending her for her Kindergarten year because by the end of this year (pre-k, 2nd year CH) she will already be doing everything they will plan to teach in public school Kindergarten (and my mom was the Kindergarten teacher at our public school, so I am not just speculating on this).

DD has not brought home anything in cursive, though they may have some related works, they are learning print.
post #37 of 52
My three youngest have been in Montessori charter school for the last three years and I adore it. The only complaints I have had have been on a personal level with a few teachers-and even those were never a huge ordeal-just some difference of opinions that were easily resolved after talking to them. I suppose my largest complaint is about FL testing standards that even montessori has to follow (fcats, sat9/10) which of course can affect the rate at which a certain age level must learn something-with that, though, even the teachers I know agree with my dislike of having to force a 7 yo to sit for more than an hour and pay attention to a test...so it tends to be a necessary evil that has nothing to do with the actual school.

The approach to learning suits my children very well-they really love school. I do the *check in* with them a lot-'do you want to homeschool?' and they invariably would rather not! They love the ability to research, go at their own pace, etc.

So I really don't have any major gripes...which is a miracle for me, cause I usually can find some!
post #38 of 52
I really hesitated to post here, as I am not a critic. However, I did end up pulling my ds out of Montessori and into a more traditional school in 4th grade. He had been attending from age 3 on.

Montessori was not working for him. My husband and I started thinking about whether or not this could be true and when we discussed it with the Director, she stated she really thought so. We tried many options before pulling him and worked extensively with the school, but in the end we all agreed that it was pretty obvious he wasn't getting what he needed. Not all children learn the same way and he definitely needed something different.

It is just his personality type. For a great many children, Montessori has so many benefits. Just not what my son needed at that time. The change to traditional school was a bit difficult but he now has this amazing enthusiasm for school and learning that was always missing for him at Montessori. He is so much happier all the way around and has been since we pulled him (he's now 12 so this was 4 years ago).

We now have my daughter in a preschool co-op (because of our location) that is based very loosely on Montessori methods and are considering putting her into a Montessori. Her personality is so different from my son's but we're still thinking on what we want to do. I do love Montessori though.
post #39 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipse95 View Post
It is just his personality type. For a great many children, Montessori has so many benefits. Just not what my son needed at that time. The change to traditional school was a bit difficult but he now has this amazing enthusiasm for school and learning that was always missing for him at Montessori. He is so much happier all the way around and has been since we pulled him (he's now 12 so this was 4 years ago).

We now have my daughter in a preschool co-op (because of our location) that is based very loosely on Montessori methods and are considering putting her into a Montessori. Her personality is so different from my son's but we're still thinking on what we want to do. I do love Montessori though.
If you don't mind sharing I would love to know where the roadbumps were for your son. I totally believe that this is what parenting & education is - responding to your child's actual needs. I am happy with our Montessori so far but I want to try to stay open to my son's experience and always glad to hear from people who've been there making the decisions.
post #40 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Astoria View Post
I like a lot about Montesorri but didn't choose it because of the emphasis on practicality vs. imagination. There is a tendency in montesorri schools to correct children and ask them to use things the proper way, as tools not toys.
So a child who turns over the small ironing board and says its a boat will be told its not a boat, its an ironing board and it goes right side up. They think children model adults and take their "work" seriously. I think that's true. I also thing imagination, open ended creative play, story telling, imaginary worlds, etc... are really significant and important to the development of children. Both waldorf schools and progressive schools make more room, in my opinion, for this aspect of early childhood. I'm not endorsing those schools, I'm just comparing the fact that some models make room for this type of play and I don't think Montesorri, on the whole, does.
I see this presented frequently as a downside to Montessori. I agree that pretend play does not have a role in the Montessori primary classroom (3-6 year olds). But I don't believe that it means that creativity is not encouraged. I think a lot of adults have a set idea about what imagination or creativity means (pretending something that isn't there, making something that is one thing into another) and I don't think it always has to be that. I am struggling to explain, I guess. But if I want to be creative, I pick up my knitting or I spin some yarn. I don't pick up my power drill and pretend it is a flying saucer, KWIM?

I don't fell that there is anything wrong with saying that there are certain items that are tools, and we use them for specific reasons. The Montessori materials are designed to teach certain concepts, and they lose their effectiveness in teaching that idea if they are used in a different way. But if a child wants to build with building blocks rather than understand the differences in dimension taught by the pink tower, then I, as a parent, would provide blocks at home. The same with dress up clothes or a play kitchen (my children have all of these at home).

Although I am training as a Montessori teacher, I feel that it is easier (and much more fun!) for me as a parent to provide play and dress up and pretending. When my kids go to school they learn to explore with their senses, do multiplication, find out about the sounds that the letters of the alphabet make, etc. I don't mind doing some of that at home with them, but i'd rather just spend time with them enjoying life (Montessori schools also typically don't give homework, even at the elementary level).

As far as the academics being "pushed" on them, or children taking their work seriously, children don't have the same preconceived notion of work that adults do. We automatically think play = fun and work = boring and depressing. If i ask my kids what work they did at school, they are likely to say something like, "I did the checkerboard today and it was really awesome!" or my little one will say, "I did the color tablets. It was fun!"

I feel that if they are naturally interested in something, such as letter sounds, and the teacher presents it to them, that doesn't mean it is being pushed on them. After something is presented to them, they have the option to choose or not to choose that work in the future. If they are choosing to learn division, or choosing to learn letter sounds or cursive writing, it isn't because someone is forcing it down their throat. It is because of all the lessons they have been presented, that is what they find interesting at the moment.

And we do present lessons in handwork, art (painting, drawing, batik, papermaking, embroidery, sculpture, bookbinding, etc.) We also present music lessons and students are free to play the tone bars or sing in class. There are botany lessons and children are often free to go outside and garden, or to collect samples of types of plants to investigate. We present science concepts and children can create models of the sun and earth and rivers, mix different substances to see how they react, do experiments to learn about concepts of gravity, magnetism, and the states of matter. Children can make giant timelines of historical events or the lives of people, and can usually research and illustrate/make posters and books about/write plays about, nearly any concept they find fascinating.

Even with all of these things (and more) available as choices in the classroom, children still often make the choice to do math, geometry, and language skills as well. If you think about it, throughout human history, people have always been interested in communicating with one another through language, written and spoken. People have always been interested in mathematical and geometrical concepts. No one has to pressure children to find these things interesting if the sense of wonder is left to develop naturally and people don't tell children that these things are supposed to be boring or hard work.

I understand that children like to pretend, and dress up, and play. I don't really understand where we get the idea that this is all they want to do, that they don't want to participate in and learn about real life things. Just because I had a difficult time learning algebra in high school doesn't mean that when I teach it I plan to give the impression that it is hard and no fun. For some kids, it might be their favorite lesson! Especially if I introduce it with the idea of, "Look at this really neat thing that people learned you could do with numbers. Can you imagine who the first person was that ever though of this?"
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