what I observed in a class - thoughts? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
#31 of 49 Old 12-06-2010, 07:31 PM
 
GuildJenn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 4,776
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Can I get the email address of your prof? Please PM me. First, it's not a respectful assignment and I think your prof should know that s/he needs to assign people different assignments than coming onto boards to be argumentative. And second - you do need some further instruction.

 

I'm not saying there are not rigid Montessori schools for there surely are just as there are loosey-goosey schools. Montessori is a name anyone can use, plus teachers and approaches vary.

 

That said, my son's Montessori operates in a reasonably traditional way - and is so far from "pushing" and too serious and all that that I actually laughed at your post. Sorry, but you haven't really gotten to know many kids if you don't know how seriously they take "play" - calling it work is much more in line with, at least in my experience, how kids under 5 experience their world. When my son was at home with me full time with eeeeeverything to choose from and no pressure, he wanted to what I was doing - dusting, counting out change, everything. He liked toys too and still does, but his play at that time wasn't like "oh! it's the weekend! let's play!" It was - wwwwwwoooowww look at this shape sorter. Must. put. blocks. through. He would get really upset at having his dignity stomped on.

 

I'm not sure where the pushing thing comes from. When you let kids pick what they want to do, I find it hard to believe that's pushing them. I have figured out over the years that maybe it's because there's a purpose and progression in the works.  But I don't get why that's so suspect. When a child spends time with trains and train tracks, learning to put them together and push the trains around, they are making up their own progressions (have a watch over several weeks).  Children inherently are wired for that, like crawling to walking. Sure, sometimes they go "backwards" - and Montessori allows for that too. The thing is, when a child drops food off a tray, they are experimenting. It's the same thing with blocks etc. Montessori doesn't impose that - it supports it. There is a critical difference you have missed.

 

Also, I've said this before but my personal observation has been that when you try to make preschoolers function as a group or play in group play, the adults spend so much time trying to manage their moods - get them "happy" ("Let's HOP LIKE BUNNIES! GO!") and also working around the endless negotiation for roles, resources, etc.  I'm not saying that's all bad but I find it so tiring personally compared to the individual works of a Montessori and the way personal exploration is respected. 

 

I don't mean to sound pedantic. If you get down to an individual child and an individual Montessori, I think there are poor matches and I also think there are other great methods. But I think you have totally missed the mark in your understanding of the method in general. I hope you will return to your class and explain to your professor that this posting to a forum was not a successful assignment if the purpose was to a) engage a community respectfully and b) share actual knowledge.


~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
GuildJenn is offline  
#32 of 49 Old 12-06-2010, 07:34 PM
 
Shanny2032's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 321
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Wow.  Yup, there is something wrong when a person studying education is this opionated and obviously uneducated about a learning process that has been used for centuries.  I too encourage Badger to look deeper into what you are seeing instead of making snap judgements based on what you think is "right" or "normal".  Other than that I am at a loss for words toward how off base your assumptions about Montessori education are so I really hope that others can enlighten you better than I.

Shanny2032 is offline  
#33 of 49 Old 12-07-2010, 05:56 AM
 
physmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,434
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Bagergirl

I very much hope you use this opportunity with this class assignment to explore Montessori a bit and try to understand some of the points that you are clearly very skeptical about.  Montessori education does not (and should not) look like a typical public school classroom because the focus is not on top down learning (i.e. the teacher deciding on certain topic areas that the kids must learn) but rather bottom up learning (where the children themselves choose their own pace of learning and what topics they would like to pursue).  The materials in Montessori were picked by the creator of Montessori (Maria Montessori, fascinating woman if you have  a chance to read up on her life) with two specific criteria in mind 1.) that the children would be interested in them and 2.) they had a specific purpose when it came to their learning trajectories.  For instance, many materials in the 3-6 age group focus on fine motors skills that help children build up the hand strength to be able to write correctly.  Stuff like bead work helps both math skills and, again, fine motor skills.  

I can tell you first hand that hands-on material at this age is an obvious choice.  My DD spent one entire evening counting her magnets and putting them in and out of a bucket over and over again!  This was entirely unprompted by me and something she took much satisfaction in.  She barely made a sound or moved during this time (except to count out-loud occasionally) because she was so highly concentrated.  At these young ages when kids are fully engrossed in an activity they are not jumping about squealing but rather quiet and very determined to figure it out.  Montessori classrooms do not discourage children from talking to each other (quite the opposite, a typical public school classroom would punish children for talking during a lecture whereas in a Montessori classroom the kids can talk when they feel like it so they have more chances to build social skills).  

I have also found as a parent that the more independence I give my daughter and the more I treat her as an equal (ok, obviously, I still must parent and certain things that are dangerous to her ARE restricted) the better behaved she is.  We used to have tantrums often, however, once we made her toys/snacks/drinks/clothing more easily accessible to her and she could decide when to partake in them she became a much happier kid.  That is exactly what Montessori does is put the child's education in their hands and respects kids enough to believe that a child knows when they are ready to learn various skills.  

I would strongly encourage you to read up on studies comparing Montessori children to those in a typical public school classroom.  While the studies are not prefect (seriously, what studies are?), they found that Montessori studies preformed years ahead of their public school counter parts even years after they had finished Montessori (look inside Montessori: The Science of Genius for references).  

Something that you wrote really struck me: "Finally, the quiet, calm tone in the classroom can sometimes be needed and appreciated during certain activities, but children should not be expected to be quiet for all parts of the day. They will spend many years behind a desk, staying quiet, and this is their opportunity to be loud and excited during their play." Like I mentioned before the quiet, calm is the child's choice.  But what I really wanted to address is you mentioning the child sitting behind a desk for many years to come. Again referring to the book Montessori: The Science of Genius, research shows that children learn best when they move about i.e. have manipulatives that help them learn.  That is actually a cornerstone in Montessori education.  Instead of sitting behind a desk passively accepting information from a teacher, they actively move through the classroom to pick out the materials that they are interested. Those materials in and of themselves are manipulatives (like the beads that you saw) that allow a child to physically access more abstract concepts.  Just think of the same situation as an adult.  If you drive somewhere yourself you are more apt to remember the directions than if you are sitting in a car being driven somewhere.  Connecting the physical to the cognitive helps with learning, so actually those years sitting behind a desk can be counterproductive to a child's education.  

One other aspect that I find extremely appealing is that it meets children at their own level.  Whether a child is advanced or behind they can enjoy a Montessori education because age expectation are not placed on a child in the same manner as in traditional schools.  An advanced child is allowed to work ahead and as deeply into topics as they like whereas a child that needs more time can take it and also turn to their peers or their teacher when they have questions.  This is seen in Montessori because you have multi-age classrooms so children are not segregated by their age.  It is rare that you find a child that is exactly at grade level in every topic (rather they are more like to have interests and disinterests and be ahead/behind in those topics accordingly) so then if a child is more interested in, say, reading that would have older classmate to discuss favorite books with whereas if math was not as easy for them than they would have younger peers that may be working more at their level. 

physmom is offline  
#34 of 49 Old 12-07-2010, 10:10 AM
 
MattBronsil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,350
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I love the irony. 

 

 

Quote:
The activities they provide for students I don't believe are developmentally appropriate

 

Then this...

 

 

Quote:
They will spend many years behind a desk, staying quiet,

 


As if THAT'S developmentally appropriate... :)

 

 

Quote:
this is their opportunity to be loud and excited during their play.

 

I've found that HAVING to be loud and excited for EVERY MINUTE of the day is very unhealthy for any age. 

 

Sorry...just don't agree at all with any of your assumptions about what children need.  I can't imagine why anyone who studies education WOULD agree with them.  Then again, I guess they might cover those ideas in your SECOND semester in school. ;-)

MattBronsil is offline  
#35 of 49 Old 12-07-2010, 10:57 AM
 
ollyoxenfree's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,933
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by badgergirl08 View Post

I am a student at UW-Madison, in my first semester of the School of Education. As part of a classroom project, we were asked to join a forum and see what were popular discussions regarding education. I stumbled across this discussion and was interested in the conversations regarding the Montessori school. In my classes this semester we have spent a fair amount of time discussing this different types of schools and curriculums available, sharing experiences and opinions. As I read through this discussion I see that many people are in favor of the Montessori curriculum. However, as a future educator I am not in favor, and share similar concerns to Sora. Many of my fellow classmates had the opportunity to observe a Montessori classroom and saw many of the same things that you, Sora found. Students worked individually on their own carpet mats, doing activities such as practicing pouring, dusting or polishing silver. The play time was actually called "work time," and students were considered young adults rather than children. Students spent most of their time working individually on their own mats and there was little discussion within the classroom. 

Sora, I don't believe that your observations were that inaccurate of what Montessori looks like. In my opinion, Montessori pushes children to grow up too quickly. The activities they provide for students I don't believe are developmentally appropriate and are not activities a child of that age would choose to do. I can tell you that I do not know how to correctly polish silver, and I don't believe that this is a necessary skill for a child of the age of 4. Referring to the children's play time as "work time" treats them more like young adults and takes away the ideas of imagination and silliness involved. Finally, the quiet, calm tone in the classroom can sometimes be needed and appreciated during certain activities, but children should not be expected to be quiet for all parts of the day. They will spend many years behind a desk, staying quiet, and this is their opportunity to be loud and excited during their play. In all honesty, as a future educator and parent I do not see myself becoming a part of the Montessori beliefs. 


 

Hmm. Well, I suspect you don't have a lot of experience with young children. Most children I know choose to mimic a lot of practical life activities similar to those that they observe adults around them doing. That's why toy companies make billions of dollars every year selling little plastic play kitchens with dishes and pots and pans, ironing boards and irons, vacuum cleaners and brooms, gardening tools, work benches and tool kits...... If these activities aren't developmentally appropriate, then all of these toys ought to be removed from play centres, pre-schools and homes. I'm not sure what would replace them. It is an interesting thought, isn't it? 

 

I also suspect you haven't witnessed the wonderful response when you extend respect to a child, honour their natural developmental processes and treat them as capable and competent learners. 

 

So many trends in education today have existed in Montessori for years: self-directed learning, experiential education, co-operative and collaborative work with peers, multi-age classes to name just a few. As you continue your studies and learn about "new" teaching methods, I suggest you investigate their past development. I'm sure you'll find that many of them have been employed in Montessori classrooms for a very long time.  

 

It doesn't seem like you have actually spent any time in any Montessori classrooms. As a future educator, I hope you learn to keep an open and inquiring mind about different theories and methods. I hope you investigate and experiment for yourself, rather than rely on second-hand superficial and brief observations. Most of all, I hope you learn to trust the children who come into your classroom to be capable self-learners. You have a lot to learn yourself. Best wishes with your studies.  

ollyoxenfree is offline  
#36 of 49 Old 12-09-2010, 01:44 PM
 
badgergirl08's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 2
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

 

I'm sorry if I offended anyone, that certainly was not my intention. I understand that you as parents will feel very strongly about the schools you are involved with. I was simply sharing some of my personal beliefs and conclusions. We are not taught in our classes to dismiss any type of instruction. Instead, we are given readings that support all types of schools and in turn are allowed to make our own opinions about them. The project was also not to come on here and dismiss others’ ideas, but rather to have a meaningful discussion. So I appreciate everyone’s very thoughtful responses to my post. As one poster seemed to allude to, it is obviously rare to find a teaching method that is a perfect fit for all students. I thought many of you brought up valid points, however I still have a few concerns that I would express to Sora. I have many years of experience working with small children in educational settings, and I believe that children need the opportunity to be kids, and being goofy and fun. There are ways of providing activities that enhance concentration,motor skills and other skills, which are more developmentally appropriate than polishing silver. I also do not believe that children need to be loud and goofy at all parts of the day, nor do I support having children sit behind a desk all day. There are significant changes that need to happen to our education system, and I commend Montessori and other types of schools that try to modify and improve the traditional classroom. Once again, I appreciate all of the attention my post received. It is always helpful to hear varied points of view as I continue to develop my own teaching philosophy. Sora, I hope you found the answers and help you were looking for! :) 

badgergirl08 is offline  
#37 of 49 Old 12-09-2010, 03:43 PM
 
GuildJenn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 4,776
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by badgergirl08 View Post

 

I'm sorry if I offended anyone, that certainly was not my intention. I understand that you as parents will feel very strongly about the schools you are involved with. I was simply sharing some of my personal beliefs and conclusions. We are not taught in our classes to dismiss any type of instruction. Instead, we are given readings that support all types of schools and in turn are allowed to make our own opinions about them. The project was also not to come on here and dismiss others’ ideas, but rather to have a meaningful discussion. So I appreciate everyone’s very thoughtful responses to my post. As one poster seemed to allude to, it is obviously rare to find a teaching method that is a perfect fit for all students. I thought many of you brought up valid points, however I still have a few concerns that I would express to Sora. I have many years of experience working with small children in educational settings, and I believe that children need the opportunity to be kids, and being goofy and fun. There are ways of providing activities that enhance concentration,motor skills and other skills, which are more developmentally appropriate than polishing silver. I also do not believe that children need to be loud and goofy at all parts of the day, nor do I support having children sit behind a desk all day. There are significant changes that need to happen to our education system, and I commend Montessori and other types of schools that try to modify and improve the traditional classroom. Once again, I appreciate all of the attention my post received. It is always helpful to hear varied points of view as I continue to develop my own teaching philosophy. Sora, I hope you found the answers and help you were looking for! :) 


But again you're displaying your lack of information because TRUST ME, kids at my son's Montessori are goofy and have fun. It's just that they also have a work cycle. The two are not in conflict, because there's time in a day.

 

Polishing silver is one of those funny things people pick, I guess because so many Victorian novels talk about the tedium of the poor maid polishing silver but I remind you that the kids choose to do it. My son loves dusting at home which is not that different, except for the finger strength.

 

I would still like to know your prof's email address so I can give some feedback on the assignment, but totally fine if you aren't comfortable with that.


~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
GuildJenn is offline  
#38 of 49 Old 12-09-2010, 04:00 PM
 
Lisa1970's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2,604
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

At home, a child might chose to spend a long time putting balls in to a container, or pulling wetwipes out of a container, one at a time. It is not because I forced him (believe me, I would have preferred the wetwipes stayed in the container) but rather because for whatever reason, it is what fascinated him at the time.

 

It would be great if you read up on Maria Montessori and her philosophies and methods. Then stay and observe longer. The older children helping the younger is one of the best things. Yesterday, my older son actually worked to pick my younger one up and place him in the swing and start to swing him. A lady was there who used to be a teacher and commented on how she has never seen that before. While my children did that because they home school, it is also how things often go when ages are mixed because the kids learn to help each other. I think it is wonderful, it is beautiful, and is how things should be. A real montessori school will have the ages mixed, as in 3-6 yr olds together, 6-9, 9-12, see what I am saying? There are a lot of schools that try to use the Montessori name but really are not. You can tell when they have a lot of group lessons and the school is broken down by grades.

Lisa1970 is offline  
#39 of 49 Old 12-09-2010, 04:34 PM
 
laohaire's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 7,369
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by badgergirl08 View Post

 

 There are ways of providing activities that enhance concentration,motor skills and other skills, which are more developmentally appropriate than polishing silver. 

 

But what's wrong with polishing silver? I mean, how is that inappropriate, but play brooms and shape sorters are not? It's just another activity, a fine motor activity, and it's a satisfying one.

 

I don't have my kid in Montessori so I shouldn't be typing here, but I did go to a Montessori preschool. I remember the work periods firsthand (I have a lot of memories from my early years) and they were great. I remember spooning rice and using a shape sorter, for instance. Trust me, I loved it. I wasn't hopping around in glee but it was fascinating. And we DID go running around on the playground too. And we did crafts. And we listened to stories. It was quiet some of the time but not all the time.

 

My daughter is 5 years old. I ask her to check our dry beans for stones before I cook them. She LOVES to do it. She will sit quietly and go through the beans. She also knows this isn't busy-work, because I have poor vision. I actually NEED her to check for stones, since I pretty much can't do it. This gives her a huge sense of responsibility and pride. Children love meaningful work. Children are also very capable of fairly long periods of concentration, at least when the environment and work is conducive to it. Trust me, Montessori schools are not chaining kids to the silver and whipping them so they polish it. If you see a kid polishing silver, especially for any length of time, she or he wants to do it.

 

For the idea that kids need to be kids - what would that involve? Fisher Price toys? So kids weren't kids until the Baby Boomer generation came along and the types of toys that we're familiar with started to line the shelves?

 

This is the legacy of our whole species, children engage in activities that stimulate their senses and observational skills. And YES, running and jumping and playing too!


Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

laohaire is offline  
#40 of 49 Old 12-09-2010, 04:37 PM
 
Drummer's Wife's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Land of Enchantment
Posts: 11,823
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by badgergirl08 View Post

 

I'm sorry if I offended anyone, that certainly was not my intention. I understand that you as parents will feel very strongly about the schools you are involved with. I was simply sharing some of my personal beliefs and conclusions. We are not taught in our classes to dismiss any type of instruction. Instead, we are given readings that support all types of schools and in turn are allowed to make our own opinions about them. The project was also not to come on here and dismiss others’ ideas, but rather to have a meaningful discussion. So I appreciate everyone’s very thoughtful responses to my post. As one poster seemed to allude to, it is obviously rare to find a teaching method that is a perfect fit for all students. I thought many of you brought up valid points, however I still have a few concerns that I would express to Sora. I have many years of experience working with small children in educational settings, and I believe that children need the opportunity to be kids, and being goofy and fun. There are ways of providing activities that enhance concentration,motor skills and other skills, which are more developmentally appropriate than polishing silver. I also do not believe that children need to be loud and goofy at all parts of the day, nor do I support having children sit behind a desk all day. There are significant changes that need to happen to our education system, and I commend Montessori and other types of schools that try to modify and improve the traditional classroom. Once again, I appreciate all of the attention my post received. It is always helpful to hear varied points of view as I continue to develop my own teaching philosophy. Sora, I hope you found the answers and help you were looking for! :) 


But again you're displaying your lack of information because TRUST ME, kids at my son's Montessori are goofy and have fun. It's just that they also have a work cycle. The two are not in conflict, because there's time in a day.

 

Polishing silver is one of those funny things people pick, I guess because so many Victorian novels talk about the tedium of the poor maid polishing silver but I remind you that the kids choose to do it. My son loves dusting at home which is not that different, except for the finger strength.

 

I would still like to know your prof's email address so I can give some feedback on the assignment, but totally fine if you aren't comfortable with that.


I agree.  Badgergirl, your limited knowledge on Montessori is really lacking what it truly entails for children.  It is based off what the child needs.  If you really want to learn about the pedagogy, I suggest reading some books on the subject and truly observing in a Montessori environment so you can get a better idea of how it really works.  Even then, you would likely still not get it completely, as it takes time to understand Dr. Montessori's approach.  I know the first morning I observed in a toddler classroom I was blown away and kinda like what the heck?  I was intrigued, but maybe would have had some similar judgments as you do.  Then, I attended an ECE program (6 months in length, so not a degree, just a certificate based on children ages 0-8) and my teacher was pretty amazing and educated, I thought.  HOWEVER, when we discussed various programs/theorists such as Waldorf and Montessori, the information presented was pretty dismal, at best, and came mostly from our textbooks based on child development.  I then worked as an assistant in a Montessori classroom for over a year and still didn't really comprehend the concept.  I saw how it worked, in practice, but it wasn't until I took AMI's Montessori training that I was like ah, ha!  Light bulbs went on constantly, and while I thought I knew a whole lot about child development before, it suddenly all came together and made absolute perfect sense.  I decided Maria Montessori was a genius! :D  and that Montessori was by far better than any other type of education a child could receive.  Seriously... and I still feel this way a decade and four kids of my own later. 

 

I guess all that rambling is to say, don't knock it until you understand it.  And from what you posted about children needing to be silly and have fun (I agree!), it's clear that you haven't got to that point yet. 


ribboncesarean.gif cesareans happen.
Drummer's Wife is offline  
#41 of 49 Old 12-09-2010, 04:55 PM
 
lach's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: MA
Posts: 2,042
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

What everyone else is saying, but I also wanted to pop in and say that M. Montessori termed what children do in Montessori classrooms "work" specifically because a child's job is to play, and she felt that deserved more respect than is commonly given to the word play.  So she called it work to encourage others to pay attention to its true importance.

 

This is such a fundamental part of Montessori, and a quote I've seen hanging in every Montessori classroom I've been in, and offers such interesting food for thought that I have to say I'm a little shocked and disappointed that it didn't come up in your studies. 

 

(Also, as an aside, every adult that I've ever talked to about Montessori who went to a Montessori preschool gets really excited when talking about polishing silver.  They all... seriously, every last one... claim it was their favorite part.  I always think that's really funny.  Out of curiosity, why do you think it's developmentally inappropriate?  With its instant gratification in watching shiny appear from dull as if by magic, while practicing fine motor control and building hand strength, I can't think of something much more appropriate for 3 and 4 year olds.)


Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
lach is offline  
#42 of 49 Old 12-09-2010, 05:33 PM
 
nanette0269's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 160
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I must give you a lot of credit to return to the post...I think most would have created a new account here on MDC and simply started a new conversation.

 

That being said, anything my children want to do that serves a purpose, I want them to do!  Whether thats creating a castle out of sofa cushions or learning the concept behind multiplication.  

 

I actually observed the kindy class in my child's room (there is one part of the workcycle every tuesday/thursday that just the kindies are in with the teacher during part of the workcycle).  I observed the teacher ask if a child can take a lesson from her about multiplication.  He gently got up from his studies and came over and listened to this "second lesson" (typically there are three lessons presented for each work item).  I then saw the logic behind how the problem is solved/reinforced for a 5 year old:

(6X4) + (8X4) + (5X3) + (2X9) = 

When she demonstrated this one using the "snake game", she asked if he wanted to continue to work on the 3 remaining problems in this lesson or if he wanted to return to reading his book.  He chose the multiplication.  Perfect example of how this is child led.  It was up to him to learn....and more important if he didnt find the process of putting the pieces together in his brain interesting, it would not engage him to learn more.  Her job is to guide the student and find ways to encourage their intellectual development....not to spoon feed the "steps" to him.

 

Now, after I had another meeting with the teacher, I then saw this same studious child being a dragon on the playground :)

 


DD5, DS3...Montessori since 8/2010
Bradenton, Florida
nanette0269 is offline  
#43 of 49 Old 12-10-2010, 07:22 AM
 
GuildJenn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 4,776
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Actually I was musing on this in the shower this morning and thought I'd just post a note you might want to share with your professor.

 

Dear Professor X,

 

I understand from one of your students that you assigned education students to participate in online forum discussions around education with parents. 

 

I'm all for young educators and parents communicating and sharing information.

 

But I do have concerns around the assignment as implemented.

 

One of your students posted advice to a parent based on what sounds like a single observation of a particular method (Montessori).  It doesn't sound like this observation was an educated one -- the student seemed to lack an understanding of the history and philosophy of the Montessori method or the research around Montessori. For example she seemed unaware of the 2006 Science article exploring the social skills gap between Montessori and non-Montessori students (in favour of the Montessori student) – and article that pops up really easily on the Internet which is how I came across it.

 

The student also made some assertions about age-appropriateness of the silver-polishing activity that were somewhat appalling. ("I can tell you that I do not know how to correctly polish silver, and I don't believe that this is a necessary skill for a child of the age of 4.")

 

There seemed to be no understanding around the real components of the activity – following a series of visual-motor tasks, developing hand strength and fine motor skills, developing executive function to stay on task, and so on. Sure, polishing silver is quaint to us modern stainless-steel types but that doesn’t make it inappropriate for early education – any more than encouraging students to make collages would be, or that sand play is a "necessary life skill." I give this as an example because there certainly are things to critique & explore in Montessori, but this assertion was really off and poorly expressed.

 

When education students post on message boards with very little actual information, but a lot of opinion, I believe they are undermining their field and parent-teacher relations. I really can't respect an educator who publicly posts advice to a parent that is based on ignorance — and seems unaware of the extent of that ignorance. In fact that's kind of my worst-case nightmare about education in general: A lack of willingness to research and explore in depth when developing curricula and classroom management approaches.

 

I also think that education students should be encouraged to research more fully than this student seems to have been. It makes me wonder what this student would perceive as appropriate research, critical thinking and analysis skills to pass on in the classroom.  And it makes me wonder about the point of the assignment. If it was to learn about the method, I think it failed because your student wasn’t interested in listening. If it was to engage with parents in a positive way, it failed. If it was to learn how smarmy moms like me can be, then mission accomplished.

 

I understand that in this case it's probably largely a first-semester problem, but I wish you would set clearer guidelines for your students so that they don’t essentially put parents like me off. I also hope that your classroom in fact provides more detail and thought than this student demonstrated. And I do encourage a closer look at research into alternative education methods; I assume that’s next semester. 


~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
GuildJenn is offline  
#44 of 49 Old 12-10-2010, 07:40 AM
 
sapphire_chan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 27,779
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I think what is bothering me the most is that apparently the professor decided to require his/her students to use themselves as the "authority" in a spurious appeal to authority logical fallacy. And that "authority" near as I can figure was supposed to stem from one day (was it even a day?) of observation.

 

(Just to clarify, my problem is not with a student, particularly a beginning student, following the assignment, what bothers me is that a professor would GIVE the assignment.)

sapphire_chan is offline  
#45 of 49 Old 12-10-2010, 10:16 AM
 
lach's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: MA
Posts: 2,042
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

GuildJenn inspired me, and I sent a polite note to the School of Education (asking that it be forwarded to the appropriate person) voicing some concern about the way this assignment was assigned and interpreted.  It's really a little upsetting to me that she obviously believes that she's spent all semester learning about different educational philosophies, but she didn't seem to know or understand things that should have come up in the first five minutes of a lecture about Montessori.  And the way that she talks about the course being all talking about opinions and experiences makes me think this is a serious failing with the course instruction.  Taking other people's opinions, which seem to be based on an extremely superficial knowledge of the suject, as fact, without learning about the solid factual foundations of what you're talking about, is not really how I think a teacher (or anyone) should be trained.

 

GuildJenn, I think you should send yours, too.  It was very good.  I just went to the department webpage and put it into their "questions and suggestions" form.


Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
lach is offline  
#46 of 49 Old 12-10-2010, 10:37 AM
 
GuildJenn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 4,776
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post

GuildJenn inspired me, and I sent a polite note to the School of Education (asking that it be forwarded to the appropriate person) voicing some concern about the way this assignment was assigned and interpreted.  It's really a little upsetting to me that she obviously believes that she's spent all semester learning about different educational philosophies, but she didn't seem to know or understand things that should have come up in the first five minutes of a lecture about Montessori.  And the way that she talks about the course being all talking about opinions and experiences makes me think this is a serious failing with the course instruction.  Taking other people's opinions, which seem to be based on an extremely superficial knowledge of the suject, as fact, without learning about the solid factual foundations of what you're talking about, is not really how I think a teacher (or anyone) should be trained.

 

GuildJenn, I think you should send yours, too.  It was very good.  I just went to the department webpage and put it into their "questions and suggestions" form.


Done! Although I hope the student also discusses it with the prof.

 

Sora sorry this got so off track. I guess it's not surprising that parents who seek out early education methods get a bit hot under the collar about educating the educators. :)


~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
GuildJenn is offline  
#47 of 49 Old 12-10-2010, 11:24 AM
 
ollyoxenfree's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,933
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by badgergirl08 View Post

 

I'm sorry if I offended anyone, that certainly was not my intention. I understand that you as parents will feel very strongly about the schools you are involved with. I was simply sharing some of my personal beliefs and conclusions. We are not taught in our classes to dismiss any type of instruction. Instead, we are given readings that support all types of schools and in turn are allowed to make our own opinions about them. The project was also not to come on here and dismiss others’ ideas, but rather to have a meaningful discussion. So I appreciate everyone’s very thoughtful responses to my post. As one poster seemed to allude to, it is obviously rare to find a teaching method that is a perfect fit for all students. I thought many of you brought up valid points, however I still have a few concerns that I would express to Sora. I have many years of experience working with small children in educational settings, and I believe that children need the opportunity to be kids, and being goofy and fun. There are ways of providing activities that enhance concentration,motor skills and other skills, which are more developmentally appropriate than polishing silver. I also do not believe that children need to be loud and goofy at all parts of the day, nor do I support having children sit behind a desk all day. There are significant changes that need to happen to our education system, and I commend Montessori and other types of schools that try to modify and improve the traditional classroom. Once again, I appreciate all of the attention my post received. It is always helpful to hear varied points of view as I continue to develop my own teaching philosophy. Sora, I hope you found the answers and help you were looking for! :) 


 

I also think it took some courage to return to the conversation. Your response raises more misunderstandings though. 

 

I honestly don't know any Montessori educators who disagree with the idea that "children need the opportunity to be kids". Montessori is all about honouring the child's development and respecting the child's choices, and following the child's lead in learning. That's the fundamental cornerstone of Montessori philosophy and if you don't understand that about Montessori, then you understand nothing at all about it.

 

It's a principle of Montessori that children are entitled to live, work and play in an environment that has been adapted and organized specifically to their smaller size and developing gross and fine motor skills. If you take the time to visit a Montessori classroom, the first thing you might notice is that furniture, equipment and materials are all adapted and organized for the children's needs. Parents are encouraged to make sure the home environment is likewise comfortable, child-friendly and respects the child's needs. Again, this all grows out of the recognition that "children need the opportunity to be kids". 

 

I also don't know any Montessori educators who disagree with the idea that "children need the opportunity...[of] being goofy and fun".  What on earth has left you with the impression that they might believe otherwise? 

 

Since you have experience with small children in other educational settings, I continue to encourage you to research Montessori and observe Montessori classrooms and compare them with an open mind. Consider how well those other educational settings truly nurture a child's development and respect the individual. I would honestly be surprised if you continue to believe that Montessori methods are somehow inappropriate.  

 

 

 

ollyoxenfree is offline  
#48 of 49 Old 12-10-2010, 12:34 PM
 
lach's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: MA
Posts: 2,042
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I think what is really bothering me is that there seems to be an underlying belief that "all opinions are equally valid, even the uninformed ones" in the way that Badger is speaking, and in the way that she describes her course.  She does mention readings, but she makes it sound like most of the class is people sharing their experiences.  And some of the students (not Badger) have done some cursory Montessori observations, and came back with some superficial observations which were then shared with the class.  Which is a fine starting point for a conversation.  And that's the point where a professor who knows something about educational theories (and, I'm sorry, but Montessori is one of the major ones, so a professor teaching about educational theory who can't give an off the cuff lecture about Montessori has no business teaching that class) steps in and says "Your opinions are really interesting.  Let's take a look at the reasons behind some of the things that you saw."  And then there's an interesting class discussion, and everyone learns something.

 

Instead, it sounds like the students came back and said "OMG it was so quiet!  And the kids were polishing silver!  I remember my mom making me polish silver once a year, before we had out big Thanksgiving dinner, and here they're making little kids doing it!  WTH?"  And the teacher let it stand.  And now Badger, and the rest of the class, think that they understand Montessori.

 

Opinions are great, but you have to know what you're talking about.  I'm not confident that this professor gave the students any grounding.  There's a reason that in college, first year courses are usually large lecture classes, and you don't get into seminars where everyone is supposed to contribute until after you've finished your prerequisites.

 

On this forum, we get people who don't like Montessori fairly frequently.  Some are a lot blunter than Sora's husband's mental hospital joke ;)  But I always get the impression that though their criticisms are sharp, they are interested in learning more and having their misconceptions cleared up.  Badger is pretty clear that she is already an authority on the matter, and her opinions are quite firm.  I think that her professor has done the students a huge disservice by basing so much of this course on uninformed opinion, as opposed to actual facts.


Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
lach is offline  
#49 of 49 Old 12-10-2010, 07:16 PM
 
MattBronsil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,350
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I really wanted to give a more complete response, but with the way the board has been working lately, it's just too frustrating to reply on here.  I hope it holds out this time.  (It seems to be so far).

 

I think part of the frustration comes from the fact that this is often how teacher education programs approach Montessori.  I love this quote from John Chattin-McNichols's book (slightly edited for brevity...so it's not a direct quote): 

 

 

Quote:
Choose a university, either a famous one, or a local college that offers Masters or Doctoral level programs in Early Childhood Education.  Call the School or College of Education on the telephone, and ask the secretary to speak to the chair or program coordinator in early childhood.  When you actually get a faculty member on the telephone, ask three things:
1)  What text is used in the introductory course in early childhood?
2)  if the University offers any courses in Montessori education or the professor thinks of the Montessori method in general.
3)  The professor's own knowledge in Montessori
 
....
 
The results of these interrogations are not uniform, but they reveal a pattern that is quite consistent....
 
The textbook used will (usually) have only historical references to Montessori....
 
The professor will typically admit to a lack of detailed familiarity with the Montessori method, but will typically recommend against it in favor of "more modern" programs....
 
The professor may or may not have read any of Montessori's books, has been to one or two Montessori classrooms in his or her lifetime, and is typically unable to suggest a single piece of research on Montessori.

 

So I doubt we're dealing with a student that doesn't WANT to learn about Montessori.  It's more just a student that doesn't have anyone to guide them through it at the University.  This is a common thing and it is frustrating because it means we often have to start over at square 1 a LOT.

 

The silver polishing discussion actually got me laughing early.  My mom went to China about a year ago to help a school that was starting there.  She met with the parents who actually asked her, "Why do the children need to polish silver?  We have maids that do that!"  Square 1....square 1....  :-)

 

So...let me start at square 1 and use that example.

 

What we really have to remember is Montessori ideas are centered around a few things:

1)  Certain assumptions about the child, which I will get to in a minute.

2)  Observation.  We observe children to see what happens, much like a scientist in the woods might quietly observe an elephant to find its nature.

3)  Materials are there to meet the needs of the children based on those assumptions and observations.

 

When I say we have assumptions, I also have to say that these assumptions can readily be taken away if the observations do not show it.  The biggest assumptions we have include:

--Children are developing.  Children subconsciously or instinctively know more about what their own needs than we do.

--Children enjoy meaningful activities.

--Children have a sense of wonder and awe about the world.

 

These are assumptions I think EVERY Early Childhood Educator has.  The first one may be more debatable than the others, but I doubt any early childhood educator (outside of Taiwan) would say, "Children need meaningless activities."  (Taiwan comment...side note.  Sorry.  haha)

 

So then the question is what do we do with this?  The Montessori method has the solution of providing the students with an environment that is suited to their needs and observing them.  Observation, for well over 100 years by schools all across the world, have shown the same things.  Children consistently:

--Prefer to do the Montessori activities when they have the choice between the Montessori activities and toys.

--Develop a love of learning.

--Develop concentration.

--Develop independence.

 

(I could add a big list, but I'll stick to those points).

 

So this brings us up to the question of what parents want for their children.  Schools are set up with a HUGE range of options from this point. 

Parents often want their children to be immersed in a fantasy world...welcome to Waldorf!

Parents often want a place where their children can play all day with other children....welcome to most of what's out there for Preschool!

Parents often want their child to sit still and do worksheets that make them feel like they're paying for something....welcome to a (thankfully) very small minority of what's out there.

Parents often want their child to become independent, have confidence in doing an activity themselves, be able to focus on something they love for a long time, love learning (not love going to school and playing games necessarily...love the process of learning), develop creativity, develop without any sort of sense of negative competition, develop academically as best they can and love doing it, and be respected for the choices they make....welcome to Montessori! :-)

 

How does this relate to the silver polishing?  It's a perfect example of an activity for Montessori and I can relate it from a 5 year old's perspective perfectly.  When I was 5, there was a penny polishing activity.  Every day, I chose this penny polishing activity.  I remember that fact because I recall one morning walking into the classroom.  I was the first student there and I went right to the practical life shelf.  Sitting on the shelf where the penny polishing always sat was a completely different activity.  The penny polishing was gone.  I looked at other shelves...the penny polishing was gone. 

 

My teacher was in the coat room and I walked up to the door and asked where it was.  She said she put it away because she had no more pennies that needed shined (I guess I did them all.  haha) and said she would put it out tomorrow.  I said OK and walked away, but she knew I needed that activity.  Almost immediately, she said to wait a minute and told the assistant/intern she'll be right back.  She went around to other teachers and faculty members in the building and came back with pennies for me to shine.

 

I remember shining a penny that day.  I put the apron on.  I sat down.  I opened the lid and placed it carefully where I always do.  I took a q-tip, dipped it in, and began polishing the penny.  After I had scrubbed and covered the penny with the polish, I set the q-tip down and began wiping off the penny.  I remember seeing that shine.  I remember that *I* created that shine.  More importantly, I remember that ritual that came with the activity.

 

So much stuff is rushed in our lives.  At that time, about 3/4 of the rest of Cincinnati was rushing around, trying to get to work after they woke up late, getting their kids dressed and running around, taking their car in to get fixed while trying to plan the rest of their day, or listening to the traffic report, frustrated that they're stuck on interstate 71 when they have to be somewhere in 5 minutes.  On the other hand, there was at least one single solitary boy who was allowed to have time to himself to perform this otherwise unimportant ritual.

 

When I was finished, I am sure I put the polishing activity away.  I'm sure I likely went and did more "challenging" activities.  I'm 99% sure I did math at some point, since I'm still addicted to and fascinated by the math materials.  But providing me with that ritual was something that still stays with me after almost 30 years.

 

Finally, I think this article states it better than I ever could.  I posted this a few times here, but it's ideal for this discussion again:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4097/is_200310/ai_n9314410/

 

Sorry for the long winded reply.  :-)

 
MattBronsil is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off