A friend recently posted an interesting article on FB titled "Montessori: The Missing Voice in the Education Reform Debate" by Laura Flores Shaw...The author discusses the Montessori education method and why it might be a good format for our school systems. I am certainly no expert on this subject. However, I have observed one truth: although our country collectively believes our schools need reform, we cannot seem to agree on the nature of such reform, nor how to effectively implement such changes. I am sure it is rather complicated due to inherent systemic, cultural, political, and bureaucratic factors. Furthermore, it is such a controversial topic since 'experts' from all different educational backgrounds have wide ranging, and often opposing views.
Additionally, children are so different by nature and therefore likely benefit from various educational formats. Our children have unique home lives/family dynamics, learning styles, special needs, sources of motivation, etc. While talking to parents in our community, I have discovered that in some cases, different siblings from the same family attend different schools due to these different needs...yikes, quite the logistical challenge for those parents!! Nevertheless, I am fortunate to live in an area in Cleveland that offers excellent schools, both public and private, regardless of these individual preferences/needs. I am going to guess there is no 'best' format for learning, and there are likely various types of schools that might work well for any given child. Unfortunately, it may take trial and error to find the right fit. The best we can do as parents, is to visit, observe, discuss, and try to get a feel for these different schools in our communities to determine which is the best fit for our children.
It just so happens our children attend a Montessori school, and when we moved to Cleveland, I had limited knowledge about this system. I was new to the area, and therefore did the requisite tour of preschools. Although I liked several, I settled on one Montessori school. During my visit, I observed the different classrooms, from preschool up to 8th grade. I was highly impressed with how motivated and genuinely interested these children seemed throughout the classrooms. Allegedly, the upper school children "could not WAIT to get to school early" to start their day. Students were literally jumping out of their chairs to participate...it was very surprising and inspirational. After spending three pre-primary years there, we have been very happy with our experience, and will therefore likely continue through grade school. Yet, I am keeping an open mind, and I will continue to consider all options since the majority of families in our neighborhood rave about our public schools. I sometimes wonder whether we might be missing out on all of the wonderful benefits that system provides. I am certainly not declaring Montessori to be the 'best' format for our schools. But, I will say, as a parent with limited knowledge and a hesitancy (due to its nontraditional nature), we threw caution to the wind, and have found it to be a great fit for our children (thus far)...As such, I do believe that it could serve as an effective framework for some school reform...perhaps not in every school, or in every city, or for every child. But, perhaps it is still worth considering.