April 8th-10th 2010
Jason R. Lord
I have radically changed my thinking based upon experiences at the Montessori Training Center and my session tutoring afterwards on the same day. I help run an afterschool-tutoring program Thursday Evenings at a shelter called St. Anne's Place. We focus on helping the kids accomplish their homework and do school worksheets. As a reward the kids get half an hour of computer time.
This is I imagine a fairly common tutoring style yet it is completely opposite and contrary to the Montessori method! This point was really kit home when I was tutoring a 3rd grader who I had worked with the entire year; she had made great progress in math and she was often very excited to show and tell me all of her new multiplication and division skills. Today she had a large double-sided sheet full of six to seven digit addition problems. Far from being excited, she became paralyzed by the shier quantity of repetition and amount in front of her. The huge page full of work became a trap where she could not see the end. She began to shut down and could not solve problems that I knew she could do if she was in charge of her own work. Despite continued attention & help we could not finish the sheet together and she didn't get to play on the computer.
After visiting the Montessori training center, it is so clear to me that there is a better way. Putting a huge table of numbers in front of kids and telling them to learn does not inspire or motivate them. Montessori implies that if learning and exploration were fulfilling perhaps we would not need to force homework/school work with carrots or sticks.
Some of the important ideas I can away with from the Montessori school are:
1. It is not necessary to solve the problem of education, but rather "solve the problem of attention"
2. Allow the children to explore nature and bring nature into the classroom
3. Allow the children to translate abstract ideas concrete form.
4. Allow students to lean to self teach through using didactic materials.
5. Isolation of properties in learning materials show quantities
6. Treat children with as much respect as adults and they will respond.
7. Writing with letter shapes is introduced before reading
8. Children love to dive deep into learning and ie. Match dog with Labrador, golden retriever etc. at a very early age.
9. Symbolic repression is a good way to lean the patterns of language.
10. Children will learn to check their own work.
Seeing this alternate way of teaching will alter my time as a volunteer tutor and has given me many ideas for altering my design project in class which I will post next about.