Our Mission – Part 3: Montessori

montyThe next part of our mission comes in the form of our philosophy. This is the how of our goal. We believe the Montessori philosophy provides the best opportunity to build confidence, character and leadership in our students. I could talk about the Montessori philosophy all year (and it actually takes a full year or longer to get a certification in Montessori because of its complexity), but I believe there are three primary reasons why Montessori is the best opportunity to develop these characteristics.

First, Dr. Montessori started with the end game and worked backwards when she developed her philosophy and curriculum. Who do we want our kids to be as adults? What skills are most constructive in adults? What character traits are most important in adults? She never had the adult far from her mind as she focused on the child who would become the adult. This is what proponents of 21st century education are just now doing — and it’s a good thing — but Dr. Montessori was thinking that way 110 years ago.

Secondly, Dr. Montessori observed where children are developmentally and built her curriculum and philosophy to work with nature, rather than against it. We cannot just decide to give our students confidence; they develop it as nature intended and we have to use nature if they are going to develop successfully — in this case by providing as many opportunities and pushes for their independence as possible. A dependent child cannot and will not develop self-confidence, for example. The entire program is build around who children are and how they grow, rather than on the needs of the adults or the institution.

Lastly, Dr. Montessori integrated the whole child into her curriculum. Most curricula simply address the acquisition of information (like spelling rules) or the practice of a cognitive skill (like addition), but Dr. Montessori interwove the practice of concentration, the practice of conflict resolution, the practice of collaboration, etc. into her materials, schedule and annual goals for the classroom. Respect of others is just as important (and therefore takes just as much time) as math or reading. If we value character, leadership and intrinsic motivation, we have to carve time to practice those skills during the week. She saw the need for the time it would take and set the precedent that we all need to be willing to give our values that time.

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