Monday, September 23, 2013

The Montessori Difference

If you have spent time looking through my weekly outlines, you will notice that my lesson plans are very short. In fact, they are just mini-lessons of 15 minutes or less designed to be used with 6 or fewer students at a time. You might also notice that instead of direct instruction type lessons, they are generally simple introductions to concepts or follow-up reviews of specific topics. This is because in a Montessori classroom, the learning takes place as the child works independently with the Montessori materials.

I am going to spend the next couple of weeks highlighting some of my favorite materials and conducting a virtual tour of the classroom but first I figured I should answer the question: Why Montessori?

Child who is intrinsically motivated to learn because he is allowed to follow his passion and choose activities that complement his learning style
Teacher who chooses when and what the child will study and attempts to motivate high performance by punishing or rewarding the child
Extended work periods where children select multi-sensory materials and hands-on activities that foster their individual interests and needs
Teacher who schedules when and for how long a child will study each concept
Inquiry based experiments and research projects that provide practical applications to real-life with cross-curricular activities that reinforce student-led discovery of new ideas
Teacher driven, whole class lectures followed by drill and practice worksheets that bore students and waste paper with additional busywork sent as daily homework
Teacher who plays an unobtrusive role in the classroom and who stays with the same students for multiple years serving as a long-term , trusted learning guide
Teacher as ultimate controller of knowledge  in the classroom with white board and teacher desk as the focal point of the learning experience
Active education where students learn by doing, moving frequently to stretch both the body and the mind—choosing their own location for work
Rows of assigned desks facing the white board, filled with students sitting silently all day long

Mixed age classrooms where students mentor one another and learn to show compassion for those who are different
Students segregated by age and ability
Grace and courtesy lessons which teach children to respect adults and other students
Competition and bullying
Outside activities as central part of the educational experience developing a sense of respect and caring for the natural world
Limited recess, sometimes taken away as punishment for poor behavior
Beautiful, comfortable classrooms with attractive decorations that support learning by soothing the soul and enriching the mind
Cluttered walls and counters that distract from learning and create an atmosphere of disorder
Hands-on materials stored in reach of students with responsibility to repair broken items given to the children
Hands-on activities stored and controlled by the teacher and generally reserved as rewards for compliant behavior

It's simple. I love Montessori because the focus is the child.

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