After trying all but two of the album’s recommended practical life ideas with this year’s classroom, I found myself inventorying if there were potentially more practical life ideas we could do around our classroom that perhaps hadn’t occurred to me yet. Most of the time I can look around the classroom and have a-ha moments of things we could clean or work on. But after over a year of being in the same room I can be blinded by my own familiarity.
When I need any ideas in life, I comb pinterest and instagram for inspiration. I confess that I am basically a lightweight social media junkie. I can go down the rabbit hole real deep when searching for ideas and inspo. Not one day goes by where I don’t look at pinterest or instagram for inspiration relating to one of my many passions. Be it healthy vegan desserts, a workout, a dinner idea, dance videos, what a “business casual” outfit looks like– you name it, novelty surrounding anything I love or need to know can likely be found on pinterest or instagram. Including Montessori information and ideas.
…Which brings me to the elephant in the room that no one talks about, but we can’t keep ignoring forever:
Pretty much the entire Assistants to Infancy curriculum, minus language exercises, has been made available to the general public via social media and the internet. There. I said it.
Curious? Read more below.
AMI specifically says that those who hold AMI diplomas are not to train other adults. That rule is in black and white, on the bottom of every AMI Montessori diploma. I don’t know what the rules are for AMS trained people, nor have I received AMS infant-toddler training. So I can’t speak on that. But I definitely notice that like, all of the things for Assistants to Infancy appear on social media.
Not as much info is “leaked” on primary or elementary Montessori methodology. Why? Because Montessori materials for primary and up are incredibly expensive, they’re literally huge, and they’re often too complex for untrained adults to present or to even understand half of the time. I didn’t know how a trinomial cube or bead chain worked until I watched a guide present them to me. Primary and elementary Montessori materials are stuff the average person can’t instinctually figure out. So it’s stuff that’s not likely to appear on social media or appeal to the general public. Primary and elementary activities are also way too involved and too long to fit on a single instagram post, LOL.
It doesn’t help matters that Assistants to Infancy (0-3) materials are all pretty instinctual. People can look at a box with a hole on top of it, and a ball, and assume they know how it must work.
Despite how instinctual the activities and materials may seem, Montessori Assistants to Infancy training is information and methodology that other people have paid thousands of dollars to know; or that people have devoted years of their lives in order to pass it on to other children and adults correctly.
WHAT QUALIFIES AS “GIVING PARTS OF THE TRAINING AWAY?”
In my opinion, if you’re telling or showing other people any Montessori materials to buy, sharing any information about which children (what age) to use Montessori materials with, or any information that is “how to” in nature concerning the Montessori method or its materials, in my personal opinion, you’re giving the training away, or giving parts of it away. And it frustrates me that AMI isn’t on top of this; and that any Jane Doe out there can try to give the Montessori method away for free, incorrectly, only partially, or in full using a book they wrote, when people out there, including me, have paid thousands of dollars to AMI for the information and wisdom that was passed on to us correctly, and in person.
Many Montessori social media influencers out there might fully disagree with me about “giving parts of the method away”; and be upset that I’m writing this post. Or they may not realize that’s what they’re doing, but that is what’s happening. If I was to take the time to collect all the AMI info I gathered from social media, I think it would shock a trained person. If you were able to pull up a pinterest post and see how to perform operations on the human body, I’m pretty sure the medical profession would be outraged and it would get shut down immediately.
Has anyone besides me ever thought about this very obvious fact…
IF DR. MONTESSOR WANTED TO GIVE THE TRAINING AWAY USING MEDIA, SHE COULD HAVE DONE IT HERSELF USING BOOKS, WHICH WERE THE SOCIAL MEDIA OF HER TIME. BUT THAT WASN’T HER INTENTION.
Don’t you think it occurred to Dr. Maria Montessori that she could have just written out all of her methods in a huge book or series of books, produced her own albums for replication and dissemination, and called it good? Of course that occurred to her, and of course she could have done that! That would have been ideal because it would have come straight from her. She wrote SO many books in her lifetime!
But she was also brilliant, and she knew better. It wasn’t about being an entrepreneur, making money off of her method, and “every entrepreneur has two secrets: #1- don’t give all your secrets away. #2-…” . That’s how modern culture today thinks. But she was so humble and so wise that she didn’t even want her name trademarked and attached to this method because she felt that it should just become “the way” education is for all children. Just like how we all have integrated Vygotsky, Erickson, and Piaget into early childhood education without needing their names to be a part of the title of a distinct method of education. She wanted to revolutionize the method by which we are educating children because she found a better way.
So when it came to sharing this method with others, Dr. Montessori knew that being trained in person through actual lived experience was superior. She obviously intended for her proteges to be trained methodically and precisely, in person, by her and by others who were trained by her, to learn how to deliver all of her ideas the exact way she intended for them to unfold in reality. If this was not her intention, she would have indirectly trained all of us by writing training manuals and disseminating them herself. It’s that simple.
Let’s use some examples to put “training” into better context; and why I feel people are giving parts of the Assistants to Infancy training by spreading it on social media.
If you learn how to change your own oil, top off your own fluids, and rotate your own tires, it doesn’t make you a mechanic or give you the wisdom that a mechanic has about cars. But it does give you important parts of a mechanic’s training. If you learn how to make your own frappacinos and matcha green tea lattes; and you buy your own espresso machine for home, it may not make you a barista. But you learned how to produce some of the drinks that a barista is trained to produce. How did the mechanic or the barista learn how to change the oil or make lattes? They got trained by someone else.
Furthermore, the examples of changing your own oil and reproducing specialty coffee drinks happen to be activities that have a natural control of error. If you do these things wrong trying to do it yourself, you will immediately experience the consequences of your lack of true wisdom. Your car won’t work, or your drink will taste disgusting.
If you “montess-sorta” your child the wrong way, you probably won’t have the discrimination of what’s not working or why. Or you don’t know enough to allow your child to gain everything there is to gain out of a Montessori activity or experience. You might even be doing things fully wrong for all you know. But you would never know, because you’re not trained. And I would bet a lot of parents probably don’t care. The material just looks cute, and your kid is occupied, so in your mind it’s a “win”. “Who cares? They’re just a baby. I don’t need to be formally trained to give my baby this ball with a box that has a hole in it”, you’re thinking. “If I f*ck it up, who cares, they’ll grow up anyway”.
WHY FINDING MONTESSORI INFO FROM THE INTERNET MISSES THE MARK
There are three values I have identified from reading Dr. Montessori’s books and learning this method, which are, in a sense, the “bread and butter” of implementing the Montessori method–
1) methodical precision of presentation.
2) direct, active, “I-lived-through-it” learning experiences (which the children all get from a trained guide, and which us trained guides all get at the training centers), and
3) The wisdom. In other words, being permanently transformed as a person through a gaining of actual internalized understanding of how an aspect life works. And becoming permanently better off for it (more capable, more confident, wiser).
Those three gems are what sets the Montessori method of education apart from other methods of education; and it’s why our children come out so brilliant, so capable, and hopefully wiser, better people after being exposed to the method. It’s why those of us who go get trained in person can “kill it” working with children– because we understand the mind, the development, and tendencies of the child; and we are more capable of working with them successfully, we’re more confident that we’re likely to be successful when working with a child, and we’re wiser about the nature of children.
Like, is that not huge to anyone besides me? The Montessori method was meant to give people wisdom about real life. Not just skills and random academic smarts. It’s not just “your baby can put this ball into this box”. Duh. Animals can figure that out. Well that seemingly simple box and ball anyone can find a picture of on pinterest or instagram?
That box and ball is allowing the baby to gain wisdom about geometry, how their hand works, how their eyes work, spatial relationships, timing and patience, the physical, sensorial, and scientific properties of natural elements and geometric solids, the confidence to know that they can pick up a ball with their own hand, or release it when they want to; the wisdom of how to fit one object inside of another and what fits inside of what, the knowledge that the ball ought to roll back out of the hole, versus bounce out or shoot out, the wisdom to know that just because you don’t see an object doesn’t mean it’s not there, the wisdom that if you drop an object, it should fall downward, the wisdom to know that if you drop a hard object against another hard object, and when they collide, it should make a “thud” sound.
An animal can’t have that level of wisdom– that’s a uniquely human inheritance. You may not believe in God, but I do; and Dr. Montessori definitely did. And I believe that wisdom is what God gave specifically to humans, it’s what sets us apart from animals.
Wisdom about reality transforms people. Wisdom provides a degree of certainty in a dynamic world. Wisdom about reality allows people to operate successfully in reality. Information, on the other hand, which is an aspect of human reality that might be true or might be false for all you know, (it’s up to you to discern the difference) influences one’s thoughts, and might provide a detail that can be applied to reality and used to transform reality, but information isn’t wisdom.
And even if information isn’t the wisdom that’s actually causing the change in reality, I still don’t think it’s OK for people to just spread important information from the Montessori method incompletely or incorrectly, using social media snippets and posts, which is not the way Dr. Montessori wanted it to happen. I think anyone who knows about the method will agree that she’s pretty big on completeness.
It’s great that Montessori now has more global exposure as a result of social media. It’s just that the social media alone won’t provide people the wisdom that is supposed to go with knowing about the materials. Just like we don’t let people get behind the wheel of cars without knowing how to drive them, knowing how to be careful, or without being ready or capable of driving, Dr. Montessori had a plan for perpetuating her method through careful preparation of the adult; and she was trying to help us all out by spreading the method using meticulous training, in an in-person format. Just because you know parts of the method are out there, because you saw it on an instagram post or a blog, doesn’t always mean you should try to do what you see, without knowing what you’re actually doing.
“IT’S NOT WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING AT, IT’S WHAT YOU’RE SEEING”: THE DANGER OF NOT KNOWING THE TRUTH (you will get duped/ swindled).
The ultimate risk of receiving Montessori information from social media is that any quack out there can say it’s Montessori, and run with it no matter how incomplete or inaccurate the information actually is. And if people start to believe all the imposter, incomplete information, people start to buy into “Montess-sorta” and “Montess-something”. This then distorts and could potentially devalue and distort all Montessori information.
I believe this “cheapening” of the method threatens the purity and authentic perpetuation of an incredibly valuable, powerful, and transformative heritage. Montessori done right is truly amazing; and it has clearly withstood the test of time because of all the people who are determined to keep doing it right.
But take anything amazing, adulterate it, and over-spread it, or continue to fool people from receiving the real thing, and society will eventually either start to distrust Montessori altogether, start to treat it like a fad, or the authenticity will become mixed up with all the inauthenticity and the whole name will drop in quality. And I believe that’s basically what has happened already.
WHY I BELIEVE THAT LYING WITH MONTESSORI TO MAKE MONEY ISN’T HELPING ANYONE, NOT EVEN YOU (BECAUSE YOU JUST LOOK LIKE A FOOL TO THOSE OF US WHO KNOW WHAT’S UP).
Montessori information can fully be re-packaged in order to make money for (greedy) people. People distort it, or only share partial information, pass that on, or worse, pretend like they know what they’re talking about when they have zero training whatsoever, confuse and fool people, and keep moving right along. It’s like a virus replicating itself, or a mutated strand of DNA that just keeps getting worse and worse as all this distortion is passed on. The consumers of Montessori information from the internet would never know the difference between what’s real and what’s not unless the signs and symptoms of inauthenticity somehow became very obvious.
I just think people deserve to know the difference between what’s the real deal, and what’s not. Fooling people using Montessori doesn’t only happen via social media, it happens in person, too. But it’s very widespread on social media, so I made that the focus of this post.
HOW ARE PEOPLE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA IS LEGITIMATE, AND WHAT’S NOT?
What is the litmus test of a great Montessori website? The magical phrase “AMI trained”. AMI trained people never hesitate to disclose our credentials, because we worked so hard to acquire them. Chances are a lot of us cried upon completion of our training. Here is one of my favorite websites written by an AMI trained person, and an example of sharing the credentials… https://nduoma.com/about/ , and another example of how an AMI trained Montessori practitioner will not hold back on disclosing her training. http://www.lidamontessori.com/about-me/
I hope that even if this post bothers people, it helps shed some light on what’s legitimate, so that parents can know what’s legitimate, too.