AMI versus AMS - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 13 Old 03-12-2005, 02:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
OhTheThinks.....'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 494
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have a choice between an AMI school and an AMS school. The AMS school has been in business for 27 years and goes all the way to the 8th grade. So if DS is a "montessori type learner" that will be great till high school. One of the teachers has branched off and started a 3-6 program, she is AMI based. I understand that AMS is the US society for AMI at large. I was wondering those of you who may know, or seen different types of programs in action........what are the differences in approach and school environment that you have seen? Did you have a preference?
OhTheThinks..... is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#2 of 13 Old 03-12-2005, 03:59 AM
 
alegna's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 42,826
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have spent a fair amount of time working/observing in both AMI and AMS. Some differences are obvious and others are more subtle. For example- AMI uses cursive letters from the beginning. AMS starts with printing. My understanding is that they are more similar in the 3-6 group then more different as you move higher. My best advice would be to go and observe each (for a decent amount of time- a couple of hours each- at least) and see which you get the best vibe off of and which you feel is a better match for your child.

good luck!

-Angela
alegna is offline  
#3 of 13 Old 03-12-2005, 04:32 AM
 
bionicsquirrel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The realm of Kansas
Posts: 903
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My sister has taught Montessori for 15 years and she talks a lot about this. I will ask her to clarify, but here is what I know.

The major difference is that one "believes" that you should adhere strictly to what Maria Montessori originally wrote about learing and teaching. This means that technology is not appropriate in the classroom, that anything modern is inappropriate as a learning tool. I am pretty sure that this is AMI.

The other is a little looser in it's approach, allowing computer learning and such. I will ask my sis to make sure I have the styles right. I think this is AMS.

What my sister says is that she thinks that the stricter model does not account for the time period that Maria Montessori lived and wrote in. She believes that MM would definitely utilize the tools of today ie. technology, modern inventions, to teach her methods as well as the traditional learning tools. By not allowing these things you are doing a disservice to your children.

I still haven't decided how I feel about this, but I do love reading what Maria Montessori wrote and you mind find it helpful to read her words and then keep them in mind while viewing the two schools. Go with your gut feeling..."what does my child need in his learning environment?"

HTH,
Bianca

Mother to one wild and crazy boy 12/29/2002.
Midwife, Homeschool Educator and Crafter.
bionicsquirrel is offline  
#4 of 13 Old 03-14-2005, 01:48 AM
 
kaydee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Hither & Yon
Posts: 2,450
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My understanding is also that AMI is a bit more "strict" than AMS, in terms of applying Montessori's philosophies. We only have one accredited school where I am, and it is AMS. There are some non-accredited programs, too, that seem pretty good (and a few stinkers, as well!)
kaydee is offline  
#5 of 13 Old 03-14-2005, 03:53 PM
 
Mytwokids's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: MN
Posts: 347
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My kids go to an AMS school. I looked at both when picking a school. The feeling I got from the AMI school (I only looked at one AMI schoole) was that it was somewhat unnatural and sterile. The AMS school that my kids go to is much warmer. THe AMI is more strict and is the one that adheres to exactly the MM principles. That said all schools are different and you do need to observe both and go with what feels right for you and your kids. Personally I would love a montessori school that wen to 8 grade. Ours doesn't but I'm looking at options now.

Micky
Mytwokids is offline  
#6 of 13 Old 03-15-2005, 01:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
OhTheThinks.....'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 494
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
On Saturday I went to the Open House of the new school I mentioned. Its teacher is AMI based. I prodded her for information........she previously worked at the AMS school, but didn't won't to say anything bad about it. I told her not to worry, it was her opinion, and utimately my decision. Her opinion was AMS waters down MM theory. And true as you guys mentioned, the classroom did seem more "sterile" and less warm and inviting. Funny when I did visit the AMS school they had two 3-6 classrooms, they must have two different teachers, one AMI and one AMS, because the classrooms are different. I will tell you the biggest noticable difference....AMI practically puts NOTHING on the walls !! I know bringing things down to child height is preferred, but good grief. I also felt the teacher was a little rigid. Now that is not to say all AMI schools are like that, just this one. But I agree, your gut reaction counts alot.
Secondly, my sister who had her little one in Montessori, also gave major points to a M-school that goes onto higher grades. I want to check out how big the class is though when we reach that age, do you think it would be defeating the purpose it the class was too small, I think so, maybe.
OhTheThinks..... is offline  
#7 of 13 Old 03-15-2005, 11:43 AM
 
Mytwokids's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: MN
Posts: 347
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
The directress of our school is AMI certified and worked in 2-3 AMI schools. When she opened her own school she wanted it to be AMS because she felt that AMI didn't allow kids to be kids and that there were some very unrealistic expectations at the AMI schools she taught at. The other teachers at our school are AMS certified. I'm probably a little bias because we love our school so much. I do think every school is different though and needs to be reviewed individually and you need to follow your gut. Micky
Mytwokids is offline  
#8 of 13 Old 03-16-2005, 03:31 AM
e&r
 
e&r's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Washington State
Posts: 228
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I always lean toward AMI, but before I tell you why I want to add that unless the school that you are considering is actually accredited by AMI you can only judge it by how it makes you feel.

Just because a teacher trained with AMI doesn't mean that she/he is following those standards.

As far as the suggestion that AMI is more "strict," what does this mean? When I was searching for a training center to take my first training (primary - 2 - 6+ years) I looked all over the country. I was just getting out of graduate school and nothing stood in my way to pursuing what I wanted to do which was to get the best education in Montessori principals available. I looked into every type of training and ultimately decided to go with an AMI center in MN. It was the best decision I ever made in regards to my education. I also then pursued an AMI elementary (6 - 12 years) diploma.

AMI teachers spend far more time learning the history of the method and the reasons behind everything we do than other trainings. I know this because I asked around when I was searching for a training center. We write our own "albums," which are the books where we write up the basic presentations we offer the children. Most other trainings, perhaps all of them, offer these albums for sale. We must write our own as an exercise in learning all of the presentations and materials.

While some site the longer "internship" that some trainings offer, I believe that while our internships may be shorter, we spend so much time doing observations and understanding what we are doing and why we are doing it that in the end it works to our advantage. A longer internship could potentially mean that a student spends a long time, the majority of the training time, learning from someone other than a trained teacher trainer and can learn some bad habits.

I had a good friend in training who had taken AMS training. She decided to go back to take AMI training and afterwards said that what she had thought would be the case was true - the AMI training was superior.

There are many things about some AMS schools that I find baffling, such as the lack of the three hour work period - something Montessori wrote about at length and which Montessori teachers have observed throughout the world for years. The three hours of uninterrupted work was fundamental in providing the child enough time to engage in a full cycle of activity.

At the elementary level at some AMS schools that I have known the use of check lists, the lack of "great work" and of a "going out" program are some of the things that I find sad. The level of enjoyment and fulfillment of work for the children is just not the same as when they can follow their own schedule, pursue and interest for hours or days and plan their own outings, even if only for one or two people, to satisfy a curiosity.

Is this the "too strict?" That the children actually have more freedom in an AMI setting? I find that ironic.

At am AMS school with which I am familiar (a close friend works there) all of the elementary students and even the "extended day" (the five year olds who stay for the afternoon) students have check lists. They have a quota of work they must do each day, especially in math and language. This friend says that there is no "great work" going on. Great work is when a child sets a project for themselves just because it interests them and works with intense concentration for many hours or days. An example from my own days in an elementary classroom include such things as learning all of the countries, capitals, rivers, and other major geographical features of Asia. Another example is building a pond/wetland which includes native plants and animals. One of these took several days, one took several weeks. The children devoted most of their time to these projects. For the Asia one, the child did no other work for about three days. At the end, he and his friend did know all that they had set out to know and were very pleased with themselves. They then moved on to other things. For the pond project, they spend most of the day for several weeks doing this project and worked intermittently in other areas. Most of their math was figuring out square footage of pond liner, volume of the pond, and calculating costs of the materials and plants. This cannot happen at my friend's school because the daily "work" required does two things: it interrupts any "great work" getting underway and it puts a "cap" on the work by making the child work to the level of a teacher's expectations rather than their own. Children left to their own, if they have been in this setting from an early age, almost always work far beyond what any teacher could or would require.

Are check lists ever appropriate? I would say probably not standard ones prepared by an adult. In AMI training we are taught that it is the goal to have all of the students working from their own heart. We view any "check list" as a temporary solution. The check list should be done *with* the child, either every morning or every couple of days, depending on the student. There should never be more than a couple of children doing this. If there are, then look at your teaching in general. There is something wrong. The child helps to come up with the goals, or perhaps comes up with all of them and the teacher just helps to guide. Again, this is a temporary solution for a child who is having a challenging time organizing their time.

Having said all of this, I know that there are some excellent AMS teachers out there who have done much studying and who naturally have a wonderful understanding of what Montessori is all about. At the same time there are some terrible AMI teachers who just don't 'get it.' You have to go with your experience of each setting.

Anyway, this is my take. I feel that I have a good perspective having explored both options and having a lot of exposure to both.


Good luck with your decision, and remember, teachers and schools do vary despite their training.

Ellen
e&r is offline  
#9 of 13 Old 03-16-2005, 02:50 PM
 
Mytwokids's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: MN
Posts: 347
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I by know means was trying to say anything bad about AMI in general. My feelings, on the one AMI school I visited, was that it was sterile and seemed a little unnatural to me. I am not an expert on the education of montessori teachers or schools for that matter and really was commenting on my experience. The directress of our school is AMI trained and worked in AMI schools. The first school I visited was an AMI school. My feeling going there was that the directress was trying hard to sell the school to me. She was showing off what work the 5 year olds had done and while impressive I thought it was very advanced for a 5 year old. The focus seemed to me to be purely academic. They had other activities such as dance and violin for all students but it seemed very structured to me. The kids came in and did specific duties to prepare the classroom for the day and outside of the 3 hour work period it seemed the rest of the day was very structured with specific tasks for all students. There was a 30 minute outside break for the kids which was the only unstructured time throughout the day. And the outside space was SMALL. I left the school really concerned about how my dd would change by going to this school and really wondering if Montessor was right for her.

When I came to the school my kids are in now the directress basically showed me around and let me observe. She didn't seem to be trying to impress me or sell the school to me, it was more of a this is who we are, what we do - take it or leave attitude. When people are actively trying to sell something to me it immediately makes me suspicious so this attitude put me much more at ease. The classroom was warmer, the directress was warmer and the other teachers were warmer. When I first got there the kids were in a period of playing games together and I felt I was in a classroom of children. When I asked her about the differences in AMI and AMS and why she had an AMS school when she was AMI trained her response was that she felt AMI schools didn't allow kids to be kids. Her saying that made me realize that was part of my discomfort with the AMI school I had visited. It was like the classroom was filled with mini adults not children. I came to find out later that one of the schools she had worked at was the AMI school I had visited. So my experience is very limited. Our school has a lot more free time than what I found at the other school. They do not do the 3 hour work period, it is more like 1.5-2 hours but they have more time to just be. Outside of the 30 minute outside break at the AMI school I felt there wasn't time allowed for the kids to just be and play. Yes they could work on the Montessori tools of their choice during the 3 hour work period but that isn't just being and playing IMO. Again though my experience is very limited.

All that said I'm admittedly not the best to comment on the specifics of Montessori. I have read some of MM books and I do love her philosophy and her approach to teaching. The way kids learn using the MM just makes sense to me. However when looking for a school for my kids I wanted more than one that followed the principles of montessori. I wanted one where I felt comfortable and more importantly one in which my kids would feel at home, comfortable all while being allowed to grow and learn naturally. I'm not saying this couldn't have happened in an AMI school, I just don't think it would have in the one I visited. I think the balance that our AMS school has is perfect for my kids. Micky
Mytwokids is offline  
#10 of 13 Old 03-16-2005, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
OhTheThinks.....'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 494
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Yes, I do believe some of the AMS schools may have shortened the "great work period" to 1 1/2 two hours. May that is due to time contraints also. For example it the kiddies arrive at 8am, they have till 8:30 to get settled in,then line time, and then work period. Most have outdoor play at 11:30 for about an hour, then lunch. Sort of a half day school schedule. The kid who stay the whole day get another "great work period" in the afternoon, which is closer to three hours.
As for the Checklist and such........I think the kids in Kindergarten need something to show the schools they will be transfering too, what they have accomplished. Sort of like homeschoolers that need to keep track of progress. Certain skills I think have to be introduced and covered.
My husband read "the secret of childhood" and found it very interesting. He likes the philosophy and currently choses the AMS school.

What I also found interesting at the AMI school I visited, was that the teacher really STRESSED independance. She felt that the AMS school did not stress it enough and that the kids were "allowed to ask the teacher too much". During my visit,which was about two hours, their was not much said about socialization activites or anything like that. My concern with that is, I think children do need to learn how to work out conflicts, interaction etc in a safe environment.
OhTheThinks..... is offline  
#11 of 13 Old 03-19-2005, 11:53 PM
e&r
 
e&r's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Washington State
Posts: 228
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Mytwokids:
I didn't think that you were saying anything bad about AMI, I was trying to clear up misconceptions.

If you want to see what a "typical" day should be like, based on my AMI training, you can read this:
Typical day

In an ideal setting the children should be able to go out and in as they wish, even during the three hour work period. I may have mentioned this before, but some of my children, especially on particularly nice days, will spend two out of the three hours outdoors.

As far as sterile, well that is just that school or teacher, not an AMI policy.

I guess what I am saying is not to judge an entire organization on just one or two schools. As I said before, there are wonderful AMS schools (one near where I live) and there are terrible AMI schools. There are also the reverse.

I still feel that the AMI training is superior and that is why I chose it. People are people, though, and each class is still a reflection of an individual, bad or good. You cannot judge a class solely by the training of the teacher, you must observe to see what is really happening. There is one other local class here taught by an AMI teacher but honestly, if I *had* to send my ds to some school other than my own, it would be to the AMS school that has been in this community for many years. I really enjoy one of the teachers and even though they don't do things exactly the way I would, they are kind and loving and my ds would do well there and would have a good time.

Ellen
e&r is offline  
#12 of 13 Old 05-01-2005, 10:27 AM
 
Melda's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 4,210
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I spoke with my sons teacher about this a few days ago and she basically said AMS is the watered down version of Maria Montessori's ways of teaching. She said that Maria Montisorri actually pulled out of the AMS (i think she said in the 30's) because they were watering down her ways of teaching ..
Melda is offline  
#13 of 13 Old 01-06-2006, 02:20 PM
 
raksmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: by the Rideau River
Posts: 1,161
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I am going to move this tread up because of the questions that have come up regarding the differences.
raksmama is offline  
Reply

User Tag List

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


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not 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