A Montessori friend has given me a wonderful book, Montessori Madness by Trevor Eissler. If you have questions about Montessori education, this Montessori father has the answers. To see a brief video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LMRerVtt9g. His book is both wise and funny and quite worth reading, every single page. Here from within its introduction I quote a comparison of Montessori education to traditional education:
From pp. 3 and 4:
“Children in Montessori schools assume full responsibility for their lowest bodily functions as well as their highest intellectual functions. They learn to solve problems by solving them, not hiding them. Montessori children learn discipline by practicing discipline, not by having the teacher tell them to be disciplined. They are naturally self-motivated because they are free to choose their own lessons at the moment they are ready to learn those lessons, and to follow wherever the intellectual thread leads. These students are not trained to wait for a teacher to motivate them before acting. They have long attention spans because every day they practice concentrating on some type of work for extended periods of time, not just until the bell rings for the next class. These students are decisive because they make decisions for themselves – the teacher does not decide for them. These children learn to respect others because they in turn are respected, not dominated. They are active learners because instead of being lectured to as passive observers, they are active participants.”
From pp. 5 and 6:
“I want to pull the Montessori philosophy of education down into the dirt where it belongs. Montessori is about a kid with a stick, digging a hole in the mud – hands dirty, engaged, fascinated, uninterrupted. Montessori should not be the bastion of rich kids and snooty elites able to spend thousands of dollars per year, while the not-so-fortunate kids are herded toward mediocrity like standardized lemmings. It's madness that we don't offer free public Montessori schools everywhere. It's madness that we stay stuck in the traditional way of schooling when it obviously has serious flaws. Yet, at fist glance, the Montessori method is so different from what we are used to, we think this method is madness!
“The old saying, 'The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,' comes to mind. We think someone else's job is better, car is faster, house is bigger, vacation is sunnier. When it comes to Montessori education, the grass is greener. It is better. The grass on the Montessori side of the fence is so verdant lush and full, I can barely make out my three kids in the overgrowth! It's just not fair! It's not fair that the vast majority of children will never get the chance to experience a Montessori school. It's not fair that because of luck and enough money, my kids get the chance to go there, but others don't.
“The goal of this book is simple. I want to convince you, the parent of a young child, to closely observe a Montessori classroom in action and compare it with a more discerning look at your child's current schooling or any traditional classroom. The difference is so startling and compelling that I hope it will prompt you to pull your child out of traditional school and enroll him or her in a Montessori school. I hope parents of preschool-age children will decide to choose Montessori from day one. If this choice is just not affordable, I hope you will demand a public Montessori school in your area.”
To join the discussion or find out where to purchase this book, go to http://www.montessorimadness.com/