About understanding Montessori: what’s the secret sauce of success with young children?

 

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One of the biggest “secrets” in the field of Montessori education and the Montessori method is that it is a completely unregulated method.  There is no such thing as the ‘Montessori police’ going around stopping anyone from disseminating technically incorrect or misleading information, products, or services that are labeled ‘Montessori’.  And how is anyone to know the difference unless they have the training to know better?

Spoiler alert/ PSA: Anyone on earth can basically do or create anything, and call it “Montessori”… 

People  pick and pull apart at the method, keep and use the bits they like,  re-write curriculum and ideas to suit their own interpretations, and  label them as “Montessori-Inspired”.  People fully create “Montessori” schools, meanwhile the teachers can be completely untrained, only partially trained, or not trained for the level at which they are teaching.  The administration can also be completely untrained and have no idea what is going on inside of the classrooms because they have never spent serious time observing the classrooms.

No one stops anyone from writing books, or going on the internet and creating entire websites and products for purchase that are basically giving this entire method away, verbatim, straight out of the AMI training albums; or from producing books or media without actually possessing any training.   If you’re trained, you know exactly when someone is just regurgitating the training repackaged in a new format; and when someone is probably not trained at all because they never proudly mention their credentials.

Not even AMI is stopping the spread of formal infant-toddler Montessori materials or presentations (and primary sometimes.  Although primary Montessori information is less frequently spread via the internet, I’ve also seen things here and there) .  I don’t know if AMI can stop the leakage of formal information, or if they want to, honestly.   The best they can do is offer accreditation or affiliation to schools that are partly to 100% aligned in following the guidelines set forth by AMI.

It is truly puzzling to me, though, why everyone just lets this glaring problem persist and be perpetuated, while it goes completely unchecked.  And it gives rise to questions that I have yet to find suitable answers to… questions like:

How are parents supposed to understand, after investing thousands of dollars, whether their child is receiving authentic Montessori education or not?  Just because the school looks more beautiful than the other preschools near you, and just because it costs you thousands of dollars a year doesn’t actually mean they are delivering authentic, high-quality Montessori education.  Trust me– I’ve worked in one too many “Montess-sorta” schools.

Schools where the staff literally screamed at the children on a regular basis just to get everyone’s attention.  Schools where the lead toddler teacher was 0% Montessori trained and actually an elementary public school K-12 credentialed teacher working in a toddler Montessori classroom.  Schools where the owner isn’t Montessori trained, but runs the nido with 0% training and zero desire in decades to go get the training– even though they own the school and clearly have the money.  None of this is authentic Montessori.

How are parents who want to “Montessori” on their own supposed to understand what toys are truly ideal for their child’s particular stage of development, without the direct support of a trained guide?  Are they just making random guesses?  All of these materials have an age/stage/ skills prerequisite that one is supposed to observe the signs of readiness for.

How is it that people are allowed to put presentations on youtube, or basically turn entire training albums into books, and sell them for profit— when our diploma clearly states we are not to train other adults?

What do these faux Montessori resources and services mean or do to the value of the  legitimate training and the diploma?  Does it devalue the careers of those of us who paid $10K or more to receive this training in person from an AMI training center? Does it void the value of the  M.Ed degree that many trained Montessori professionals choose to pursue; when apparently any Jane Doe can somehow read some books  on the method, pass herself off as an expert, and make an entire website advising parents in the Montessori method?

Should I also be using the age of technology to my advantage, and start sharing the information straight out of my albums  so that I too, can capitalize financially and support myself on my low preschool teacher’s salary?  I mean, I’m not gonna lie– if I could get away with my blog being my primary source of income, and only have to work in the classroom for half days, I would.  Who wouldn’t?  The work cycle is the best part of the day.  The rest of the day can start feeling really similar to daycare.

Is there some sort of an official AMI trained guides registry out there somewhere?   And if there isn’t, why isn’t there?

Do Montessori teachers in America have a union yet? LOL.

Well in considering all of this, it made me realize that my goal in producing posts for readers through this website is to not be another one of the people who just re-package my entire AMI training for distribution.  I believe that if people want to learn about the Montessori method, they ought to crack open the books written by Dr. Montessori herself, and read what she intended to share straight from the source.  You don’t need the training in order to read her books. Anyone can read them.   If people want to know the method in practice, they ought to go get trained too, ideally in-person with an AMI training centre.  Which I believe is the best Montessori training available.

So what I hope all of my posts become for readers is a “Montessori Companion” resource (let it be hereforeto declared that that name is patent-pending, assuming I am able to turn all of this into a book one day!).  Instead of regurgitating all the info I had to learn in training, my goal is to share as much of the knowledge I gained from hands-on experience guiding many classrooms and many infants and toddlers across quite a few schools.

I hope to share information that will bolster parents, educators, and Montessori enthusiasts’ understanding about working and living with babies and children, and with each other while supporting a young child’s development whether it be in a home or school program setting.

Why does this “in between the lines”, “companion” information matter? Because it’s the actuality of gaining understanding that makes people change their behavior and approach with babies and young children.  Using Montessori materials, and speaking to young children like Mary Poppins-meets-a-graceful-robot aren’t the method. (:

The understanding that the adult possesses about how to tap into and empathize with the mind and the needs of a baby or young child is the “secret sauce” to why the Montessori method works so well.   After observing hundreds of babies and children worldwide (maybe more), Dr. Maria Montessori had an a-ha moment about the needs and mind of the child that essentially turned into her method.

If you can “get” the Montessori a-ha moment too, you are permanently transformed into a more effective supporter, caregiver, and nurturer of the young child.  And from that point on, you will find yourself able to repeat the same success with babies and young children no matter where you are or who the child is, or if you find yourself in  different classroom communities.    You will just “have it dialed”.   Because you have “the understanding” of the Montessori method.

I am tired of seeing so many people try to mimic the method while they possess zero or a limited actual sense of understanding behind why a particular activity, approach, or environmental design will be ideal.  I am also empathetic to other Montessori educators like myself, who experienced struggles in the classroom that no one in training prepares you for when you first start out this professional career.  Mentorship is in dire need and sorely lacking in our field.

Journey along with me as I attempt to share my insights with you (:

 

 

 

 

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