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A Montessori Love Affair!

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Confession time… I’ve had a Montessori Love Affair for almost ten years.  I LOVE Montessori materials.  I love everything about them.  I love their colors (or lack of).  I love their weight or their daintiness, depending on which works I am admiring.  I love their design.  I love how they are presented.  I love the care and thought that goes into how to best present each work.  I love the shelves they sit on.  I love the clean, uncluttered environments they reside in.  I love the methodology and thought behind the works.  I just love, love, LOVE them.  

 

I remember so vividly the first glimpse I had into the genius behind the Montessori pedagogy and materials.  My oldest son was in the primary (early childhood) classroom at our local Montessori school.  I was a drop-my-kids-off kind of mom and this was my first observation of the classroom with students working.  I sat quietly in my assigned, child-sized seat watching.  I remember being a bit bewildered as I watched the students go about their daily work.  I watched children blissfully content with being focused on the task at hand, whatever that task was.  I watched works being restored in their proper place with great care.  I saw teachers giving lessons to small groups while the other students stayed on task in their own areas.  I watched children taking turns and waiting for the opportunity to use a favored work.  I was mesmerized!  After my observation period concluded, I sat with the head of school and gleefully offered to purchase more of the particular favored work.  She smiled, patted my hand, and patiently explained why they didn’t need another of those works.  I WAS HOOKED!  My Love Affair officially began then and there!  I knew my children would be taught in a Montessori environment!    

You must admit, the works and materials are mesmerizing!  They are somewhat mysterious and exotic.  After all, the design for some of these materials has been passed down for over a hundred years to be used to teach our children.  The thought behind them was sheer genius.  But we have to ask ourselves… what exactly is the goal of these fascinating Montessori works?  Is their goal to teach the children how to use those beautiful works?  I must say emphatically NO!  Their entire purpose is to work themselves out of a job!  Learning to use the Montessori materials is NOT the goal, they are simply a tool to be used to accomplish their goal, which is to lead students to become abstract thinkers.  In today’s world, it seems “more” is the answer to every question, and as my first observation in a Montessori classroom above attests to, our first inclination is to get more.  But that is NOT the answer… in our classrooms nor in our lives.

I honestly believe some of us in the Montessori world have elevated the works above being a tool, a means to an end.  And that is dangerous, in my opinion.  Would we want our children using their fingers to solve math problems when they are in middle school?   Montessori materials, like fingers, are tools and they need to be in their appropriate place within our environments and curriculum plans.  When your children are starting to want to work without the materials… LET THEM!  That is the concrete materials’ collective goal, abstract thinking.  By insisting on use of a tool, you are unconsciously telling your children not to trust their own ability and mind to solve this problem.  And obviously, this is the LAST thing we would ever want to teach our children.  Remember, we are to “follow the child”… so if your children are asking to work independently from the works… joyfully FOLLOW THE CHILD!  

So, to summarize, I am not suggesting that the materials are not a valuable facet of the Montessori pedagogy, they absolutely are!  Just remember their very purpose is for children to not need them!  So put them back in their proper place.  Use them fully and confidently, until their usefulness and purpose has been accomplished.  Once they have accomplished their goal, pass them on to the next student that is starting their Montessori educational career!  

Until next time….

 

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Trish Corlew

Founder and Author at Live and Learn Farm
Trish has been married to her best friend, David, for 16 years and they have three sons (aged 13, 12 and 9). Trish is from the coast of North Carolina, but they now live in rural West Tennessee on a 40+ acre farm. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and her homeschool style leans towards a Montessori approach with a heavy emphasis on hands-on learning. They also own a small business that Trish runs from home. Trish’s family is Messianic and they love studying the Scriptures, learning Hebrew and growing in their faith and walk daily. In her spare time, Trish loves to write, work in their garden and can regularly be found trying to learn something new, modeling that learning is indeed a life-long endeavor!

Trackbacks

  1. […] classrooms look VERY different. Once your students have passed the need for those beautiful works (see my post about when I fully mourned the passing of this fabulous stage), it’s time to move to a more traditional curriculum and classroom.  It still has the […]

  2. […] As I scoured the internet today looking for a great deal for the Montessori Made Affordable 12.30.13 edition, it really dawned on my how much I love Montessori materials. My children have grown to the point of being abstract thinkers so we don’t have as many concrete materials left in our homeschool…. but I just love them. So much so, I actually wrote an article about my Montessori Love Affair […]

  3. […] As I scoured the internet today looking for a great deal for the Montessori Made Affordable 12.30.13 edition, it really dawned on my how much I love Montessori materials. My children have grown to the point of being abstract thinkers so we don’t have as many concrete materials left in our homeschool…. but I just love them. So much so, I actually wrote an article about my Montessori Love Affair […]

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