Montessori Education
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The Montessori system examined

Katie Figgie's insight:

This is a critical examination of the Montessori Method by William Heard Kilpatrick a colleague of John Dewey. Both Dewey and Kilpatrick are opposed to some of the ideas of Montessori. The main idea Kilpatrick focuses on is the lack of creativity and the focus on individuality in Montessori classrooms. I found this criticism very interesting because Kilpatrick critiques the areas of Montessori that most people admire. He does not like the tools Montessori schools use that most people absolutely love; he does not like the atmosphere of the classroom which is what drives most people to want to attend Montessori schools. It really challenged what I had previously believed about Montessori education and made me have to look at in a brand new way. I am still a supporter of many of the concepts of Montessori but I do think that Kilpatrick has some redeemable points. In a Montessori classroom the students are given certain tools that help teach them skills such as math or colors. As I read in The Montessori Method: Criticisms and Recollections tools have one certain way of being used. I can absolutely see how Kilpatrick would be wary of that idea because it may not let students discover skills on their own, they are given a tool and there is one way to use it and one outcome of learning it. Montessori is still much more project oriented than traditional schools are however, which is something that John Dewey greatly valued in education. But Kilpatrick still believes there is less cooperation available in Montessori schools because some of the tools do not allow for group work. He states that “The Montessori child, each at his own chosen task, works, as stated, in relative isolation, his nearest neighbors possibly looking on.” From the other articles I read I have gathered that Montessori education does actually have many tools and tasks that children can work on in groups but there are also a great number of options for children to work alone. I personally really agree with the importance of project and group learning so this has really made me consider if Montessori is able to incorporate group work enough into the classroom. Overall I think that this pamphlet is a really interesting perspective on Montessori education because it challenges preconceived ideas of Montessori and really made me look into the actual benefits and consequences of the different ideas. I think it is a good article to end on because it leaves me realizing that there may not be a perfect ideal school, there are good qualities and not so good qualities to all educational philosophies. I really love Montessori’s focus on the whole child, I believe that it is so important to incorporate into a school, especially elementary schools but I can’t help but agree that perhaps not all of the Montessori tools are the ideal way for students to learn. 

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Montessori Teacher to John King: Montessori Is Not About Testing and Common Core

"I received an email from a Montessori teacher in Wisconsin. She asked me to publish this so that Dr. John King, State Commissioner of Education in New York, understands that the Montessori school to which he sends his own children does not have a philosophy aligned with what he proposes for Other People’s Children."

Katie Figgie's insight:

This letter, from the view of a Montessori teacher explains the differences between the new common core standards and montessori philosophies. Homework in Montessori Schools are not the main focus, which leads to students having personal time and viewing learning while in school almost like a treat which they can enjoy. The common core focuses more on homework which the author of the letter disagrees with. I have to say that when it comes to homework I do believe that it has a place in the education system. I believe that homework is very important to help assess the students without giving them formal tests every day. I don't believe however that more homework necessarily means better homework and I absolutely do not believe in "busy work". This letter also discusses the difference between tests in the new common core standards and Montessori schools. Common core stresses the standardized tests while Montessori believes in accessing a child in the classroom on personal acheivements. I think that the Montessori idea is much more beneficial to a child because instead of focusing on what they should know, according to many different people all around the country, they can be focusing on improving themselves over time. The common core is a very interesting and relevant topic right now and I think it is interesting to see how Montessori educators view it. 

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Building the Pink Tower Fundraising Trailer

"We are creating a documentary film project called "Building the Pink Tower" which will reimagine schools and learning through the lens of Montessori education."

Katie Figgie's insight:

This is a really informative video that gives a general overview of Montessori Education. Steve Hughes explains the importance of the growth of the whole child and how it is the main focus of Montessori philosophy. He explains that school really should be for the development and growth of children. He says that early on it should focus on brain development, during elementary school children should learn social skills and how to work with people. And finally in later education school should focus on motivations and really discovering the unique parts of the child and how they will benefit the world. I love this explanation of how schools should function. I think that schools now do not adequately focus on the different areas of child development; it is not just about academics, children need help developing cognitively, socially, and emotionally. I believe the growth of every part of the child is so critical, especially in the younger developmental years. Social development is just as important in children as academic development, simply because without social development children can easily fall behind in their academic learning. Maria Montessori realized that learning is larger than academics, it is throughout all areas of life and if you can nurture the student's growth in all areas, then academics will be improved as well. I like that the video explains that Montessori can be used in all different contexts, for instance public schools, hospitals, and orphanages. It can be used in all different countries and environments and the documentary explains that is already is being used all across the globe to much success. 

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Montessori Classrooms | American Montessori Society

Montessori Classrooms | American Montessori Society | Montessori Education | Scoop.it
The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment that supports a child’s natural desire to learn.
Katie Figgie's insight:

This page from the American Montessori Society gives a general overview of what a Montessori classroom is really about. It goes into detail explaining the key aspects of Montessori education, hands on learning, natural colors, and a focus on students discovering and teaching themselves. The rest of the article explains how the classroom is organized which is very different from a typical classroom. “Each classroom is uniquely suited to the needs of its students. Preschool rooms feature low sinks, chairs, and tables; a reading corner with a small couch (or comfy floor cushions); reachable shelves; and child-sized kitchen tools—elements that allow independence and help develop small motor skills. In upper-level classrooms you’re likely to see large tables for group work, computers, interactive whiteboards, and areas for science labs.

Above all, each classroom is warm, well-organized, and inviting, with couches, rugs, and flowers to help children and youth feel calm and at home.” I personally really like that each classroom is made with the grade level in mind. This way each age group is getting the most they can out of their classroom environment. And since students are typically in their classrooms for 6, 7, or even 8 hours a day it seems important to me that the classroom works for the students.

It also goes into detail about the teacher's relationship with the students and how they are not the focus of attention but instead a resource for the students. “The teacher thoughtfully prepares a classroom environment with materials and activities that entice her students to learn. She may guide her students to new lessons and challenges, but it is the child’s interaction with what the environment has to offer that enables learning to occur.” I think that this is an interesting way for a teacher to be used in a classroom and it is definitely something that I think may be beneficial to a child, if they can use their teacher as a resource and explore what they are interested in I feel they will learn a lot about themselves and what they are learning compared to what would happen if the teacher instructed them on a worksheet. This page was a great introduction to Montessori Education and it definitely got me interested in this different approach to teaching. 

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The Ugly American: The Montessori Method: Criticisms and Recollections

The Ugly American: The Montessori Method: Criticisms and Recollections | Montessori Education | Scoop.it
Katie Figgie's insight:

This blog post by a former Montessori teacher explains the criticism she has with the Montessori classroom. She explains that Montessori classrooms are highly dependent on the materials; if it does not have these certain materials it cannot be considered Montessori. This, she claims, makes Montessori classrooms very expensive to create, “In fact, it is rumored that the cost to outfit one classroom with the basics, including furniture, begins at $10,000. In which originally began as an effort to provide cheap and tactile materials to poor urban children has become an empire of loosely connected and, in some cases, poorly managed private schools for the preschoolers of the wealthy.” I think that this is a problem, especially since Maria Montessori was an educator of the poor like the blogger wrote in the quote, Montessori education started out with educating the “untouchables” of Italy, the orphans who had no money, no clothes, and no food. It has now turned into a for profit business. To me that is very sad, I also dislike the point she made about creativity in a Montessori classroom. She says that “At the same time, individual freedom is encouraged while creativity is often curbed. As long as materials are used systematically, creativity with them is discouraged; there can be a lot of "we don't do it that way, we do it this way" in a Montessori classroom” I am not sure I personally agree with that style of teaching but I can see how some children may respond positively to that. This blog post was a really interesting one for me to read because I usually read articles that put Montessori in a very favorable light but this has shown me some of the real life application from someone who actually worked in Montessori. 

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How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses | Wired.com

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses | Wired.com | Montessori Education | Scoop.it
Students in Matamoros, Mexico weren't getting much out of school -- until a radical new teaching method unlocked their potential.
Katie Figgie's insight:

This is a truly inspirational article on what Montessori ideas can bring to a classroom and the lives of students. Sergio Juárez Correa, a primary school teacher in Matamoros, Mexico, struggled teaching his students in their impoverished town until he discovered a new way of teaching. Correa implemented free thinking, problem solving, group work and investigation skills into his classroom and his student's flourished tremendously. He instilled a want to learn, he stopped reciting formulas and answers in the front of the classroom and engaged the students in what they were learning. He encouraged them to learn what they wanted and had students realize that education can be done their way. Correa took a lot of his new teaching ideas from Suguta Mitra, who is known for his “hole in the wall” experiments. Mitra realized that after giving children access to internet (and along with that infinite amounts of knowledge) they will teach themselves more than any classroom could teach them. Clearly the changes Correa made improved his classroom immensely especially in one little girl who lived next to a dump her entire life, Paloma. Paloma was always a smart student, but with her teacher’s encouragement and different style of teaching than she was used to absolutely succeeded, “Paloma received the highest math score in the country, but the other students weren’t far behind. Ten got math scores that placed them in the 99.99th percentile. Three of them placed at the same high level in Spanish.” This beautiful story demonstrates Montessori ideas in other classrooms. Montessori believed that if children are shown how fun it can be to learn that they will learn better than if they are forced to memorize facts. Students in a Montessori school are given freedom to choose what they want to learn and what they are interested in. The teachers are supporters and there for them to pose questions. Correa did just that but without the many tools and materials seen in a Montessori classroom. I think that this is such a great way to show how Montessori ideas can be implemented and possibly improve traditional schools. It also shows that Montessori education does not have to be so rigidly tied to the use of certain materials to be effective with students. One of the down falls in the Montessori method is how expensive materials can be, The Ugly American: The Montessori Method: Criticisms and Recollections stated that it could cost thousands to furnish a classroom with Montessori materials but Sergio Juárez Correa implemented Montessori ideas without any materials in a classroom that sits next to a dump. I strongly believe that this is how teachers should use Montessori in their classrooms, they should focus on the ideas and goals of Montessori and perhaps not so much on the actual tools. 

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Montessori Approach Seeks To Cure "Common Classroom"

Montessori Approach Seeks To Cure "Common Classroom" | Montessori Education | Scoop.it

“'The world of education is like an island where people, cut off from the world, are prepared for life by exclusion from it.'

- Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, 1949"

Katie Figgie's insight:

This graphic shows the main differences between Montessori Education and what is thought of as a typical classroom. The layout of this graphic shows “symptoms” that the “common classroom” has and how Montessori “remedies” that problem. There are many ideas that this chart has that fixes the "common classroom". I think that a lot of these, if they can be implemented into the public education system, would be very helpful in the overall growth of the student both academically but also in other important aspects of their lives, socially and emotionally. I absolutely love that the Montessori approach demonstrated in this graphic focuses on all parts of the child and not just whether or not they meet the reading levels the government decided they should meet by their certain age. This chart shows the flexibility in Montessori Education. For instance one symptom shown on the chart is that there is a “Singular Timeline for Development” while the Montessori remedy is “Individualized “work plan” for each child relative to their age, development, strengths, weaknesses and passionate interests.” I really like how Montessori doesn’t just use a cookie cutter approach to every child because obviously children are extremely different and unique and all have different ways of learning. In this situation the teacher can create a learning system especially tailored to the student which will obviously improve their learning and create a happier child who doesn’t feel pressure to ace every test. 

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