Although the Montessori Method has been freely used for years in education circles, this term is not a patented trademark. This has led to its use, on occasion, by schools that do not actually practice traditional Montessori principles. From this misuse, misconceptions have arisen related to this educational approach. As parents explore schools for their children, it is important to recognize whether or not true Montessori Method is being used. As the support system for the teacher-child relationship, parents should understand the philosophy guiding their child’s education. Avoid confusion and conflict by clearing away the fog of these 10 common misconceptions.
1. Only Preschool:
Although there may be more Montessori schools dedicated to preschool years, programs exist for elementary and middle school age children as well.
2. Only For The Gifted:
The Montessori method is perfectly suited for creating a learning environment where students of all abilities can flourish. This teaching model is committed to the success of all children, whether they be considered gifted or even if they have certain learning challenges.
3. Religious & Ideological:
Many private schools may reflect a particular faith. However, the Montessori Method is secular in nature. It can be found practiced in non-religious private schools as well as in public school settings.
4. Passing Fad:
Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, was the academic pioneer who devised this teaching method in the early 1900s. In less than a decade her education principles had traveled from Italy across the Atlantic. The U.S. had 1,000 Montessori schools teaching American children using the methods Maria Montessori had devised. The Great Depression resulted in a lull in growth for US Montessori academies. Today, more than 20,000 Montessori based schools exist worldwide with 4,000 certified within the US. The Montessori Method is no passing fad. It’s growth and firm establishment is an indicator of its continued success and relevance in the world of education.
5. Lack Of Supervision:
For those who trust in strict, regimented learning practices, they may view the Montessori method as lacking discipline. They may have an impression that students can do as they please with little supervision over their progress or path of study. This comes from a misunderstanding of the principle of free choice for purposeful study. The reality is that students are presented educational materials to choose from. Teachers give direction in how to use the material appropriately. The role of instruction is to guide children in developing a purpose in how they use materials for learning. The Montessori Method may focus on less intervention by teachers, but there certainly is quality supervision.
6. Too Much Structure:
The funny thing about misconceptions is that they can swing back and forth between two very opposite extremes. Just as some are in error as to believing that there is too much freedom for students, there are those who think that the Montessori Method is too structured. It is important to understand the role of the teacher. The purpose of instruction is to present materials and activities that involve an orderly, step-by-step approach to learning. Students are then free to choose between these discovery possibilities. The learning process of choices involves a structured approach. The student enjoys the freedom to choose a learning model that interests them and is best suited for their learning style.
7. Fringe Education:
Because a Montessori school is not found on every corner, some may be led to believe this lack of presence as proof of it being a fringe education model. The truth is that Montessori Method is quite mainstream, accepted by large numbers of professional educators. Respected and well-known universities offer Montessori graduate programs and numbers indicate they are growing in popularity. Prospective educators can obtain their credentials on the East Coast or the West Coast.
8. Creativity Is Stifled:
Montessori educators create a prepared environment that encourages children to exercise freedom of choice that helps them develop self-discipline through the learning process. Creativity and fantasy may be one way a student learns through re-enactment behaviors. However, creativity may also be exhibited in a child’s problem-solving skills. What is traditionally thought of as creative endeavors, art and music, are activities used in the Montessori method. But creativity can be expressed in a variety of ways that go unnoticed, such as a child composing words from letters or how they choose to use elements, such as beads, to symbolize different words or concepts.
9. Accelerated Development Expectations:
Some parents may have the impression that their child is going to be “pushed” to advance. The truth is actually quite contrary to this misconception. Students are encouraged to develop at their own pace. This freedom creates a learning environment where students experience less performance anxiety. By reducing this type of stress, students actually progress more rapidly. So, pupils receiving instruction in a Montessori model tend to exhibit accelerated development but it is an organic result, not because they are driven by demanding teachers.
Although the original Montessori curriculum is a century old, that doesn’t mean it is no longer relevant today. A visit to any Montessori school will reveal that it has evolved over time. Parents can expect to see instruction in modern practical life skills such as the use of computers. Although the theory of Montessori Method has not changed, the way in which it is applied today is in keeping with what is practical and relevant for students of the 21st century. Harvard revealed that many of today’s innovators were educated by this system of learning. Household names like Julia Childs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Wikia founder Jimmy Wales were all educated with Montessori principles. Harvard also reported on research that revealed that the Montessori Method is effective instruction for those with learning challenges.
For more information on the Montessori Method, please contact us. Please schedule a tour if your family is interested in the unique advantages of these teaching principles for your own child’s development. Discover how your child can develop a love for learning that will last a lifetime.