Tell me… What do children get from a Montessori education?
In big letters that scream, children get this from a Montessori education:
“EDUCATION FOR LIFE“
Yes, children deserve to get the best education, that goes beyond any types of academic skills.
During an interview with a mum for a completion of an assignment, she asked whether her 6-year-old child should be placed in a Chinese-medium primary school or continue studying in the private International school. We talked a lot about all the stuff that children need to have to survive and grow in this fast progressing world. Ultimately, the mum said this which really enthralled me.
“I think my child should go through the hard knocks, razoring and intense pressure of the Chinese school system or curriculum at an earlier stage of her life, so that she can persevere and not easily give up at later age, when she is in secondary school and as an adult.”
Those were not the mum’s exact words, but content of her message. I was flabbergasted. I was blown away. And I was struck dumb silent. I did not respond to that as it was time to leave her place to go for another interview.
Do children need to be put in a place where they would be stoned by homework and academic pressure at a very early age, so that they could cope with tension and pressure better when they enter the working life? Yes, academic skills get them to pass the exams that are being set by the teachers themselves. What happens to creativity, imagination, living skills, emotional skills, public relations skills? Is there a subject in school which will educate children about how to save the environment, how to manage money, how to think out of the box, how to explore beyond everybody’s expectations?
In fact, through reading Tommorow’s Child magazine, (Back To School edition, 2002), Americans also face the problem of choosing traditional schools or other curricula, such as Montessori, for their children’s education. Students of traditional schools, like our Malaysia students memorize facts without understanding and expect teachers to feed them answers. Mind you, robots are made that way too. “Follow what I say, don’t ask because I must complete the syllabus, and there is not much time left.” That is the slogan of the education’s traditional system.
Talking about young children of 3-6 years old, they do not learn following the code of traditional school system. They are vibrant, full of curiosity, active, confident, independent and self-learners. YES! They are born that way, but adults being grown-ups who think they know it all since they were born earlier, love to build a mould or a castle that is built based on their beliefs and concepts, for their children, in the sake of ‘protecting’ them. Protecting is good, but supplying your child with the tools for protection is even better.
Helen Keller, who was mutually inspired by Montessori, wrote:
“I believe that every child has hidden away somewhere in his being, noble capacities which may be quickened and developed if we go about it in the right way. But we shall never properly develop the higher nature of our little ones while we continue to fill their minds with the so-called basics. Mathematics will never make them loving, nor will accurate knowledge of the size and shape of the world help them to appreciate its beauties. Let us lead them during the first years to find their greatest pleasure in nature. Let them run in the fields, learn about animals, and observe real things. Children will educate themselves under the right conditions.”
(If you do not know who is Helen Keller, watch this video as her teacher Anne Sullivan, talks about her. )
Montessori schools are different simply because children are given the freedom to learn as an individual and as a community. Period!