The ongoing trend of parents seeking private schools for their children’s education has seen consistent, incremental growth.
At the top of the list of reasons why: the perception that private schools offer superior education.
Equally motivating is the concern over how institutionalized, public education seems ill-suited to so many children. A recent conversation I had with parents disappointed with how their child fared at their neighborhood school is a perfect example of how important these discussions over education reform are – and why they need to continue.
Before I continue, a disclaimer: I am aware that just as all public schools are not alike, so it goes with private schools. There are many that fall into the same form of education as public schools – for good or ill – and the debate can be a complicated one. Of importance is constructive criticism about the way children are being taught.
The parents, who I leave anonymous, witnessed over the course of many months, their son grow increasingly frustrated towards school, which was also combined with consistent feedback from the teacher about their son not “applying himself” enough to his tasks.
Like most concerned parents, they held meetings with the teacher, the principal, the local magistrate…alright, maybe not the last one. But the parents did their due diligence, they actively sought out solutions. They tried to understand.
As far as the teacher was concerned, their son was not focused enough. He wouldn’t bear down and complete a task on time like the rest of the students. He didn’t memorize the words and math concepts like everyone else. The teacher felt more application was needed.
The parents did their best to encourage their son to work harder. They established study routines, implemented rules in the house that made homework a priority – and while there were small improvements, at the end of the day nothing changed. Worse, their son’s frustrations only seemed to increase.
It wasn’t until a more relaxed evening that their son finally brought the problem to light. He explained how he was never given enough time to finish what he started at school. For him, the class was constantly moving from task to task without explanation. The classroom, in effect, had become a place of half-articulated, and half-understood concepts.
It’s not that the boy was slow, or unfocused. It was that he was not allowed to explore the way he wanted to – the way he needed to. There is a vast difference between completing a task for the sake of time versus completing a task because you are drawn to it, because you have discovered it and made it a part of your worldview.
If this doesn’t speak to the heart of why we advocate Montessori Learning, I don’t know what does. How a child learns is just as important as what a child learns. Giving children room to understand and discover is an intrinsic part of this process.
But it doesn’t have to be a public vs. private school thing. Parents, teachers, school districts, provincial governments – all need to take serious looks at what can be done to maximize the potential of a child’s learning. Where does change need to start? How do we implement it?