Friday, 31 March 2017

In the Name of Montessori Education...

Accidentally, I happened to scan through a notebook of a little girl who attends a renowned Montessori school in Kathmandu, and I was greatly surprised by what I found. The notebook was full of academic words like zoology, biology, botany, domestic animals, wild animals, amphibians, reptiles to name some, and her parents were asked to read the vocabulary belonging to those groups with the child. That notebook made me ponder, "Is this Montessori education? Do parents pay all that extra money and send their children to Montessori schools just to train their children in the same traditional rote learning? What is happening in our country when it comes to Montessori education?"
The Montessori method of teaching is defined by a dictionary as, "a system for teaching young children, in which the fundamental aim is self-motivated education by the children themselves, as they are encouraged to move freely through individualised instruction and physical exercises, accompanied by special emphasis on the training of the senses and the early development of reading and writing skills." This definition mainly emphasises children's self-learning without excessive control from adults.
The Montessori curriculum was developed by the Italian educationist Maria Montessori which is based on the philosophy that children can grow and develop very well if left to do so without too many restrictions, but with an orderly environment that promotes their efforts at being independent and critical thinkers. Teachers' role in such a classroom, therefore, is to create a suitable environment and observe how each and every child learns so that they can find out students' interests and learning styles; this will guide their future learning when they enter the school.
Furthermore, the objective of Montessori education is to encourage children to take care of their needs, take
responsibility for their learning and be independent learners. So, they must be provided with complete freedom, for example, to choose books, playthings or even their friends. Teachers only monitor them closely so that they can direct the children's learning towards the right path.
Another aspect is that unlike conventional education systems, homework is not a part of Montessori education as Maria Montessori says, "We cannot know the consequences of suppressing a child's spontaneity when he is just beginning to be active…It is like the sun which appears at dawn or a flower just beginning to bloom. Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.”
Doubtlessly, the schools which are well-informed about the philosophy of Montessori education may be educating the children in the correct way, but at the same time, it is not true that all the Montessori schools in Nepal are aware about the principles behind the Montessori method as the above example shows. They seem to be following the same ineffective conventional teaching methods which encourage rote learning.
Therefore, while sending their children to Montessori schools, parents should not be fascinated by the name alone. They must set aside enough time to do their own research about such schools and their ability to truly provide a Montessori education.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, March 31, 2017 under the name, What is this?) 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).