Tuesday, February 23, 2010
On Parent's Night, one of the children decided he wanted to show his parents how to make corn bread. Unfortunately, we had run out of cornmeal that day. Not letting this stop him, the child went into the baking center and pulled out the Betty Crocker Children's Cookbook, a cookbook that is a replica of recipes and cookbooks from the fifties. I was otherwise occupied but happened to notice him cooking and wondered what he was making. Later his Mom showed me the recipe: get a can of juice, put it in a pitcher, add water and stir. I had to laugh! He had gone into the freezer, got a can of apple juice and made a pitcher of juice. We actually don't drink juice in our Casa any longer, so it must have been from the previous year. This child, who was introverted, quiet, and had trouble asking for presentations last year, is now going ahead, figuring out what he wants to do, and finding a way to do it. Another story of Montessori initiative. As my friend Dr. Steve Hughes says, "Montessori kids are simply good at doing things!" Definitely what the world needs today.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
One aspect of the Montessori approach I love is that it is not standardized. All children are treated as individuals, with education meaning something different for each child. Certainly, there are basics we all need but our path to achieving that knowledge may be very different from another person's path. Alfie Kohn has written quite a bit about standardized testing and what being educated can mean. Consider this:
"Are our schools in trouble because they have lowered their standards and strayed too far from the basics? Just the opposite: if American students are getting less than they deserve, it's due to simplistic demands to "raise the bar" and an aggressive nostalgia for traditional teaching.
Alfie Kohn, the author of critically acclaimed works on such subjects as competition and rewards, now turns the conventional wisdom about education on its head. In this landmark book, he shows how the "back-to-basics" philosophy of teaching treats children as passive receptacles into which forgettable facts are poured. Likewise, shrill calls for Tougher Standards are responsible for squeezing the intellectual life out of classrooms. Such political slogans reflect a lack of understanding about how and why kids learn, and they force teachers to spend time preparing students for standardized tests instead of helping them to become critical, creative thinkers" (from the flap of The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards"). Alfie Kohn's website is www.alfiekohn.org.