Monday, September 5, 2016

Becoming a Montessori dad...

Tomorrow is DH's first day of pre-school, and I've got my camera ready.

And it's not going to be "just" pre-school--this will be a Montessori pre-school in town.

What does "Montessori" mean to you? I'm just starting to really sort out what it means to me, actually. Alternative? Quality? Private? Communal? Those are all initial adjectives that come to mind, I guess.

I thought about posting this as an open letter to Cookie, a former Montessori teacher who now runs his own, "Montessori-inspired" school, True North. I'm saving that idea for another post. Or a podcast. But he and several other CT friends were who we consulted as we weighed our options for DH for the fall. Their positive Montessori experience informed our decision, and so here we go...

One of the things that Cookie did for us on a recent visit was loan us his copy of Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education. We are hungry for information right now: wanting to maximize our son's experience, and look for ways to make different major facets of his life complementary and mutually reinforcing.

So what follows is much more of a reaction to the book than any experience with our school... I purposely pushed to finish the book before the first day of class... Plenty of time to reflect on the experience itself in the coming year...

On the whole, I like what I am hearing from the book. I have a better sense now of how classrooms are consciously prepared to allow for exploration in a way that might maximize student potential. And I loved how Eissler underscored the strategic importance of serendipity in the class--and the importance of the teacher / guide being able to nimbly make connections and enable launching points for curious students.

The biggest single problem I had with the book was its need to set up public education as a negative foil for Montessori--problem/solution, right? Maybe it's because I'm a public university professor, or maybe it's because I'm a product of K-12 public education, or that my parents were both public school teachers... But I just don't see the call out public schools this way. I think about some of the problems in districts whose students feed into my home university, and realize that maybe this is white privilege talking. But... is it really that bad?

I guess that's something to keep an eye on--but reading this book has made me eager for the school year to start, and to help our son begin his newest adventure. His classroom will have students ages 3-6, so it will be a very different dynamic from the toddler-heavy daycare he was in. He's hungry to spend time with "friends," and there's a whole lot of new ones to meet.