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<p>Hey,  I'm reading through this book right now (not sure what chapter I'm on since it's on my kindle...) but I'm about 20% of the way through it and I keep having questions crop up so I was hoping to start a discussion about it.  Many of my questions are just about things mentioned in the book but I'm sure someone who understands Montessori well could answer them without having to have read the book first.  So I hope you don't mind if I pick your brains a bit and I'll probably be posting more as I go through the book (but I figured I would make one thread instead 15 million <span><img alt="redface.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/redface.gif"></span>).</p>
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<p>1. I really loved how they described using gestures and how that connects with language development in infants.  There's a study in there that mentions that showing parents how to gesture and relate it to labeling objects can improve language skills in the short term i.e. in the under 3 crowd, but then the results are washed out by about 3.  I was wondering if anybody knew anything about that study because my first inclination was to wonder if the parents had updated versions of training in gesturing (or let's just say ASL because that would make more sense) as the child's language develop.  We did ASL with DD and it worked wonders for early communication but eventually she out grew my own knowledge of it and we stopped.  I wonder if we would've been fluent in it if it could've continued to aid her language development and if it could even be a useful tool in the class room for children to communicate without breaking another child's concentration? </p>
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<p>2. Another chapter discussed freedom of choice.  I think that's my favorite so far but I wonder how this could be applicable as a child grows and eventually specializes in certain subject areas.  Is it possible to teach an advanced math curriculum using freedom of choice and physical manipulatives?  I was thinking that even something like integration in calculus could be done with blocks that fit underneath a curve (you could even show that the more blocks that you use the more accurate result you get when it comes to numerical integration). </p>
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<p>3. I think I still don't quite understand limited choice and I'm really hoping someone can clarify this to me (maybe it addresses this more later on).  But when it talks about young children (maybe ages 2-3) it suggests that the teachers would only introduce a limited number of works to them.  I understand this from a practical standpoint because kids that age just don't have a huge amount of self-control  but doesn't it also mean that you're really limiting them because some kids that that age don't learn in a very linear pattern (DD does this a lot) or they could be ahead/behind those works but it might not be appearant if they are only shown specific works?  I'm just trying to understand this and maybe it would be made clearer to me if I was actually there in person seeing it...</p>
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<p>4. They talked some about "going out" trips once or twice a month.  Is that something for kids of all ages and if so how do that organize that at your school?  I'm assuming the parents are told about them ahead of time?</p>
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<p>I'm sure I'll have more questions later but I hope you don't mind me picking your brains for a bit since I'm really trying to understand everything here.  :)</p>
 

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<p>There is a lot about what you are asking here, and the answers are not easy because not everything happens one way. Each school is different in terms of their policies, atmosphere, etc. Here is my take on some of it:</p>
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<p>Limited choice is probably a result of the fact that unlimited choice can be overwhelming for some very young children. Montessori teachers are focused on knowing each child. So in my son's school, the teacher tries to present them with a few options around what they are interested in and where they are in learning. Montessori teachers will try a lot. If they present a child with a few options and they don't click, they try something else (or, they listen to the child and what they are drawn to and then frame around that). There is also a goal of challenging children to think about many things, so sometimes the limited choice is the Montessori attempt to keep the child mentally moving.</p>
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<p>My son did not go on trips in his Montessori preschool, but in his Montessori elementary, he does. They actually went on one the very first day of school :)</p>
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<p>"Unlimited choice" can take many names as education progresses. When I taught (non-Montessori) at the high school level, we generally called this inquiry learning or authentic learning. Students can choose what interests them, learn about it, find something else, do that... And, as they mature, they are able to both focus and diversify at the same time. Sometimes they do use very physical manipulatives, but abstract thinking increases with age and cognitive development, so the blocks sometimes give way to equations or drawings.</p>
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<p>I really have no idea about the ASL, but Montessori classrooms are far from silent. They are generally calm, but there is an almost constant low level talking, laughing, and sometimes when children get excited, there are raised voices (and the teachers I have known will go over to share the excitement and this usually naturally and happily lowers the volume). The interesting thing is though, the children really overall seem to be able to "shut out" this low level noise when they work. And, of course, for many children this talking is part of their learning. So I would not be overly concerned about breaking concentration with regular speech.</p>
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<p>It sounds like you are in the process of deconstructing your own assumptions about schooling :) It is really exciting to think that there are some really innovative and wonderful ways of learning that many of us never knew exisited! I'm working on a PhD and Montessori is part of it, but I read that book recently and I had a "nerdy heartrate acceleration" at the descriptions of factory models of education and how perfect that was to describe today's public schools.</p>
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<p> It is important to remember that while Montessori is unified, it is not the same all over. There are teachers who do a great job and some not so good. There are some that really work every philosophy for all its worth and others that don't get them as deeply. There are some that have every toy, puzzle, block and bead set and others that don't. And many Montessori schools will have portions of the day that are "different" that capitalize on special opportunities that are not specifically or traditionally Montessori style (like, my son's preschool had a special yoga class with a yogakids instructor once a week and a music together instructor do music once a week- these were not Montessori style, but really served to nicely enrich the program. His current school has horseback riding and a special pottery class, both done in more traditional ways and both fun highlights he looks forward to though they are not technically Montessori). His preschool was better with the multi-cultural/peace component. His elementary school is better with challenging him with a diversity of materials. So, I would (if possible) try and read for the philosophies and overall concepts, as how your child specifically would respond would have many factors related to the specific school. If you are interested, go visit one! Seeing it in action is pretty great :)  </p>
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
<p>Thanks alexsam for the response! I was beginning to wonder if I was annoying everyone for asking too many questions. <span><img alt="redface.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/redface.gif"></span><br>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>alexsam</strong> <a href="montessori-the-science-behind-the-genius#post_16072550"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="../../../img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a>
<p>It sounds like you are in the process of deconstructing your own assumptions about schooling :) It is really exciting to think that there are some really innovative and wonderful ways of learning that many of us never knew exisited! I'm working on a PhD and Montessori is part of it, but I read that book recently and I had a "nerdy heartrate acceleration" at the descriptions of factory models of education and how perfect that was to describe today's public schools.</p>
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<p>Yes, very much so.  I've always wanted something very child-led for DD but I'm still trying to understand the best method and how it works in a school environment.  Homeschooling is not an option for us so we're trying to find something that would adapt to DD's need without putting too much pressure on her and that she could enjoy.  Essentially we want a school that would treat her as an individual without putting age expectations on her.  I'm also very interested in education in general because DH is starting a professorship soon and I hope to become one one day also so I often wonder if there is a way to implement choice and interest based learning in higher education. </p>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>alexsam</strong> <a href="montessori-the-science-behind-the-genius#post_16072550"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="../../../img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>There is a lot about what you are asking here, and the answers are not easy because not everything happens one way. Each school is different in terms of their policies, atmosphere, etc.</p>
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<p>...</p>
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<p> It is important to remember that while Montessori is unified, it is not the same all over. There are teachers who do a great job and some not so good. There are some that really work every philosophy for all its worth and others that don't get them as deeply. There are some that have every toy, puzzle, block and bead set and others that don't. And many Montessori schools will have portions of the day that are "different" that capitalize on special opportunities that are not specifically or traditionally Montessori style (like, my son's preschool had a special yoga class with a yogakids instructor once a week and a music together instructor do music once a week- these were not Montessori style, but really served to nicely enrich the program. His current school has horseback riding and a special pottery class, both done in more traditional ways and both fun highlights he looks forward to though they are not technically Montessori). His preschool was better with the multi-cultural/peace component. His elementary school is better with challenging him with a diversity of materials. So, I would (if possible) try and read for the philosophies and overall concepts, as how your child specifically would respond would have many factors related to the specific school. If you are interested, go visit one! Seeing it in action is pretty great :)  </p>
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<p><br>
Definitely! We do have a school in mind that we're hoping to send DD too but we're in the middle of an international move so we won't be able to visit it until we actually move there. :( Right now we've just called and talked to them for a long time on the phone.  So far we really like what we're hearing but I also want to learn more so I know what to look for while I'm there and to understand the thought process that goes into it. </p>
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<p> </p>
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>alexsam</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1281424/montessori-the-science-behind-the-genius#post_16072550"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Limited choice is probably a result of the fact that unlimited choice can be overwhelming for some very young children. Montessori teachers are focused on knowing each child. So in my son's school, the teacher tries to present them with a few options around what they are interested in and where they are in learning. Montessori teachers will try a lot. If they present a child with a few options and they don't click, they try something else (or, they listen to the child and what they are drawn to and then frame around that). There is also a goal of challenging children to think about many things, so sometimes the limited choice is the Montessori attempt to keep the child mentally moving.</p>
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<p>My son did not go on trips in his Montessori preschool, but in his Montessori elementary, he does. They actually went on one the very first day of school :)</p>
<p> </p>
<p>"Unlimited choice" can take many names as education progresses. When I taught (non-Montessori) at the high school level, we generally called this inquiry learning or authentic learning. Students can choose what interests them, learn about it, find something else, do that... And, as they mature, they are able to both focus and diversify at the same time. Sometimes they do use very physical manipulatives, but abstract thinking increases with age and cognitive development, so the blocks sometimes give way to equations or drawings.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>I really have no idea about the ASL, but Montessori classrooms are far from silent. They are generally calm, but there is an almost constant low level talking, laughing, and sometimes when children get excited, there are raised voices (and the teachers I have known will go over to share the excitement and this usually naturally and happily lowers the volume). The interesting thing is though, the children really overall seem to be able to "shut out" this low level noise when they work. And, of course, for many children this talking is part of their learning. So I would not be overly concerned about breaking concentration with regular speech.</p>
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<p>That makes sense about looking at what everyone else is doing and becoming interested in new activities because of that.  I was also thinking that teachers probably have more time to concentrate on where each individual child's development is at since they are not focused on creating new lesson plans for the entire classroom.</p>
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<p>One reason I was thinking about the manipulatives at higher levels is that I know many do still struggle with advanced math, especially ideas like calculus and beyond.  It seems like there has to be better ways to teach it that would be more accessible to people that are not naturally abstract thinkers. </p>
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<p>Oh, I get that they are not totally silent. :D I was just wondering because I've seen many mention on here that at the 3-6 age level that they are not nearly as talkative (same what I've read so far too).  I wondered if part of that is that it's also hard to do a mental switch from deep concentration to speaking (maybe especially for the younger crowd?).  I notice this sometimes with myself and DH when we are very much into our work it's hard to switch gears and sometimes gestures are much easier to get a thought across quickly.  However, I understand what you're saying about the background of noice while working sometimes that can help me too. </p>
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<p>Our elementary school has goings out.  The kids must call/research where they are going and contact a parent volunteer (that cannot be a parent).  They must research whcih bus line to take to get there, and navigate where they are going essentially by themselves.  If they get on the bus in the wrong direction, the parent volunteer cannot correct them-- but go with them of course. </p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<p>Thanks carmel for the scenario at your school.  Do the parents there get to at least meet the other parents that will do the outing first? </p>
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<p>5. Ok, this is more of a comment than a question but I just got to the chapter on the 5 Great Lessons and I think I'm in love. <span><img alt="love.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/love.gif"> Our former church did something that is called Godly Play (the creator of it based it on Montessori) and it was so cool to see where that idea came from.  Anyways, reading that made me wish so much that I had a chance to have a Montessori education as a kid. I love how they just give enough info to get you excited and asking questions but not so much to be overwhelming or confusing.  After reading this section I made DH read it right away and we kept wondering how something similar could be implemented at the university level.  I think that chapter really hit the nail on the head about how subjects SHOULDN'T be separated.  It doesn't make any sense to separate stuff like algebra and trig when so much of it overlaps, for instance.  I think we're actually do a disservice to our kids when we do that because then it's much harder to make connections between the two.  It really gave me a lot to think about.</span> <span><img alt="thumb.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/thumb.gif"></span></p>
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<p>Our school is a public school, so all volunteers have to have criminal background screening.  The teacher lets us know where/when  with whom the children are going, and you can always say no.  But it is really an amazing learning experience for the kids....</p>
 
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