I was delighted to receive an email message yesterday from Trevor Eissler, author of Montessori Madness: A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education. Trevor had discovered my blog posts on Montessori learning, including my review of his book, and pointed me toward a relatively new organization called The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector.
The Center, which is affilitated with the American Montessori Society (AMS), is an effort to promote the Montessori method in public school environments. The Center's website provides a wealth of resources which I strongly recommend to other educators interested in this unique, student-centered approach to learning. Some highlights:
- FAQ's on the differences between Montessori and more conventional methods of education and a useful one-page handout, "Students at the Center; Structure at the Forefront."
- Research on Montessori and student outcomes.
- A map of public school Montessori programs in the U.S., profiles of select schools, essential elements of successful public Montessori schools, and a look at how the Montessori curriculum correlates with the Common Core Standards.
I must confess, as I shared with Trevor, that I am a bit skeptical about the capacity of traditional schools to faithfully implement the Montessori method (admittedly, I've grown pessimistic about the structures of public schooling in general). I'm worried about schools that might try some half-baked version of Montessori ("Monte-something," as Trevor called it), see it fail, and then (like so many other poorly-implemented initiatives, say, "We tried that and it didn't work" (or worse, "It won't work with these kids").
But I applaud the efforts of public schools that are trying to faithfully bring the Montessori method to diverse populations of students, and the Center's goal is to promote authentic presentations of Montessori in public school environments. In fact, until we have meaningful school choice options available to families of modest means, I am as enthusiastic about this endeavor as just about anything still contained in the structures of public education, and I'm eager to learn more and share what I can with other educators.
Kentucky presently has three public school Montessori programs, all in the Jefferson County Public Schools. I'm hoping to pay a visit to these schools in upcoming weeks. In observation of international Montessori Education Week, February 25-March 1, I'll be writing more on this topic.
I also encourage parents and practicing and aspiring educators to visit Bowling Green's only Montessori elementary option currently available. In its first year of operation, The Montessori School of Bowling Green's elementary program, 506 State Street, serves 13 children ages six through twelve. Visitors are welcome, and especially during Montessori Education Week, the school invites observers. Educators will be most impressed by the thoughtful strategies of differentiation and individualization of learning that are basic to the Montessori method. Call the school at 846-1122 to schedule a visit, or contact me for more information.