Montessori education is often thought of an alternative form of education. In some ways we have to disagree with that way of thinking, because we believe that Montessori schools offer a form of learning that is actually the most natural way for children to learn. It’s hard to call something alternative when it’s actually so normal!
In other ways, though, it’s true: Montessori education is an alternative way of learning from the most traditional style of teaching you’ll find in most daycares, preschools, and beyond. The classic style of learning that has been used for so many years in the public school system is a holdover from days when the country was new, it was agrarian, and there was no heating or cooling in the school.
Now we’re not saying that a traditional school, i.e. what you’ll find in most schools, can’t give kids what they need. There are some wonderful teachers who can truly make school interesting for kids, and some kids who will thrive no matter the environment. But there’s no doubt in our minds that most kids would simply do better at a Montessori learning center. Here are some of the most common problems that Montessori education can solve when compared to normal education.
TRADITIONAL EDUCATION IS AN OUTDATED MODEL
As we mentioned above, the traditional “teacher stands at the front, kids sit quietly and look at the blackboard,” is a model that goes back the beginnings of public education in our country nearly 200 years ago. While some would say “it’s lasted this long, that must be because it’s good.” We disagree with this form of thinking; after all, the incandescent light bulb lasted a hundred years despite it losing 90% of its energy as heat instead of light. Thomas Edison himself would be dismayed to learn that no one made significant improvements to it in such a long amount of time (or at least he would have been dismayed to learn this after his patent ran out!)
You have to think where our country was when public education was created. The primary reason to have children was to help out on the farm. If they didn’t help on the farm, they might be working in mines or textile mills when they reached age 10. If they talked back to an adult or offered an opinion when it wasn’t solicited, they could be slapped or hit with no ramification. At the time it was common for adults to take advantage of submissive kids and have them sit them to try to absorb information.
The world has changed, but the methods of trying to teach kids has stayed the same. In fact, the kids themselves, and the way in which we view them, are as different as day and night. If our views of children has changed from “property” to “cherished,” doesn’t it make sense the teaching method could change as well?
THE TEACHER IS THE CENTER OF ATTENTION IN TRADITIONAL EDUCATION
It’s easy to see why children would look to the adult in the room to educate them. Adults have taught them so much of what they know so far, from brushing their teeth to learning their ABCs. Adults can do so much more than they can, so it’s no wonder that kids look up to adults in most every way.
But in a traditional classroom, the teacher is the focus of attention, where all of the learning is coming from (combined with textbooks). If the teacher says it, it sticks with a child. Kids are essentially spoon-fed the information, which doesn’t encourage their creativity in order to solve problems.
But teaching should be about the child’s education, and each child should be the center of attention. So far, on Montessori education has figured out how to make this happen.
IT SELDOM TAKES INDIVIDUAL STUDENT’S LEARNING STYLES INTO ACCOUNT
Some people learn better by reading, some by hearing, and some by doing. There aren’t many kids whose best learning style is sitting there taking notes, but, once again, it benefited the teachers to have it work this way…not the students.
As an adult, you probably discovered your learning style later in life than you would have liked. Knowing your particular style of learning earlier in life can ensure that you make the most of it through your education, and that’s part of what we’re encouraging in our Montessori academy.
CHILDREN ARE LEFT BEHIND
Even adults have times in our lives where we’re embarrassed to say that we don’t have the answer. Perhaps the boss is going through a slide presentation and asks “any questions?” at the end of it; there’s a chance that you have many questions but aren’t willing to admit that you might be the only one in the room who didn’t understand anything she said.
The same occurs in traditional classrooms with kids. If a child feels too embarrassed to speak up about their confusion on a topic, that lack of knowledge might not show up until they take a test and fail it. That just leads to a downward spiral as they suddenly think they’re bad at a subject.
Montessori allows kids to figure out where their weaknesses are, and when they do they can go directly to a teacher for help. They’re able to make sure they stay on top of things from the first moment the problem shows up. (Not only that, but studies show that children with a Montessori education are more comfortable talking with adults and asking them questions, something that helps them throughout their education.)
TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS ARE RIFE WITH FAVORITISM
Teachers are human, and therefore are likely to have favorite students. Most of the time these students are the ones who sit most still in their seats and don’t speak without raising their hands. After all, such students are making the teacher’s life easier; why wouldn’t the teacher show favoritism?
INTERACTIVITY IS LIMITED
With traditional schooling focused on “eyes front,” there’s not a lot of interactivity going on in the classic environment. But when it comes to Montessori education, children are at least given the opportunity to interact with others in order to solve problems and learn in the classroom.
Again, we’re not saying that every kid who goes through a school that employs traditional education methods is going to have a hard time of it. But sometimes their success is at the expense of other kids in the class who don’t do as well with that particular type of learning method. Overall, Montessori seems to be the type of education that helps the most children make everything they can of their time in — and out — of the classroom. Contact us today to get your child started off on the right foot with our Montessori daycare and preschool!