Think of the variables involved when a family relocates to a new city or town. What are the questions they ask when looking through neighborhoods for their new home?
Amenities, public transportation, ease of access – all valid. Time and time again, however – especially for families with children – the question I hear most often is “How are the Schools?”.
It’s an important question, to be sure. At best, public schools can be inconsistent. If this were not true, people wouldn’t be asking the questions. Quality teaching can vary from classroom to classroom, let alone neighborhood to neighborhood. Why is this? What is it about public education that fosters inconsistency?
Why is Montessori Education not being considered?
An interesting Huffington Post article by a Montessori educator outlines the ongoing debate of Education Reform in the United States. At the heart of the matter is acute frustration at the lack of acceptance for non-institutionalized education. For some reason the idea of children not sitting in rows of desks is disconcerting to many. And yet it is the absolute most minimalist way to learn.
The merits of Montessori Learning are well documented. As Laura Flowes Shaw, head of Oak Knoll Kinderhaus Montessori in California, implies, a fundamental element to true learning (and the inherent joy found in learning) is the element of discovery, and the enabling of the child through mobility and choice.
Otherwise, you’re left with the drudgery of sitting still and being talked at.
Of equal concern is the idea of grading and testing as the sole merit (or lack) of a child’s efforts. Intrinsic rewards and punishments don’t consistently work – and there are plenty of studies to back this up. A child’s learning is better defined through their discovery of concepts, and how they are applied in their world.
Perhaps, in part we are creatures of habit. To embrace something outside of the familiar can seem superfluous. “I did it the old way and I turned out okay,” is all too common a phrase. Who just wants to be “okay”? Who doesn’t want their child to excel in every facet of their life – more than we as parents ever did?
In Canada, the call for education reform is less than in the U.S.. But the misnomer of Montessori only being for private schools and the privileged is frustrating. Here in Ontario, our school taxes cannot be designated for anything other than public or Catholic education systems. Why is Montessori not recognized, when it is proven to be more effective in almost every way?
In fact, some teachers in public schools adopt elements of Montessori Education into their own classrooms. But the disparity between good learning and institutionalized education is still far too great. And the lack of initiative in education reform is a clear indictment of our own complacency.