Reader comment on Rachel Naomi Remen's passage ...

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    On Oct 13, 2014 Michell Armeanu wrote:

     In my training to be a directoress or guide in a Montessori preschool classroom, we learned that we don't teach the children, we guide them to make discoveries. We spent as many hours in our training classroom making discoveries with the Montessori materials as we did in lecture, as a requirement, so that we could understand what it means to guide rather than teach. This was the first time I received an education, my mind was opened and I made as many discoveries about myself as I did about Montessori and children that year. More importantly, what was begun that year continued to grow. When I was in my first classroom guiding children to their own discoveries I first had to overcome something, these young people had already come to depend on being told what to do and how, they were only 3-6 years old but they insisted that I tell them what to do nearly each step of the day. A Montessori classroom is child driven, but only If the children are free to choose, move and discover. As I helped the children become reacquainted with freedom, I recognized all the ways I wasn't allowing freedom and discovery in my life. It has been many years but I'm still learning to be comfortable with freedom. Though I no longer work in a classroom the education I received in Montessori Teacher Training is still quite relevant. An education is alive and continues long past the time with the teacher, professor or school.


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    On Oct 25, 2014 Tracy wrote:

     I worked in a Montessori preschool also and I actually found it very stifling for the children.  They are not allowed to discover, explore the materials, which are all called 'work', but they must be shown how to use it first.  This was a big part of what made me leave that behind! I stayed for 2 years because it all looks so beautiful and inviting...but it's way too rigid for what young children need.   Children should be allowed to explore and discover on their own FIRST, without the adult telling them how to properly use the materials!!! Then, later, yes, I think it's great that an adult shows another way to use the materials....


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    On Oct 25, 2014 Michell Armeanu wrote:

     My experience was that how the children and materials were treated was very school dependent. I was trained to teach the use of the materials in a way that helped the children feel comfortable using them and how to care for them but that was very little more than a basic way to use them with lots of encouragement to figure new/more ways to use them. I also got to work with children this way in my student teaching classroomss. When I went to a teach in a full time class it was at a school that taught all the ways to use the materials and didn't allow any experimenting, my leading the children to freedom was unappreciated, I was reprimanded. It was soon after that I stopped teaching, instead I started homeschooling my own girls. There is such a strong drive in the educational system to train children that many schools that offer Montessori, Waldorf and other alternative methods end up training and forget what the method was intended to do...educate. 


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    On Oct 25, 2014 Tracy wrote:

     Interesting, Michelle, thank you.  I can imagine that it varies from school to school, indeed.  I later became a Waldorf teacher and certainly noticed immense variation in the amount of "dogma" from school to school....


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