I think there are so many misunderstandings about Maria Montessori, her philosophies, methods, and materials. An open mind leads one directly to the source herself, and having read the simple but extraordinary observations, the Holy Spirit signals that this is something worthy of closer look, worthy of consideration.
One’s mind must be open though. This does not imply that with an open mind you will come to the conclusion that you must now purchase a Pink Tower and a Moveable Alphabet, but certainly, you cannot read of Montessori’s philosophy and mistake her purpose, her mission.
Our journey to Montessori began almost 10 years ago when we first started homeschooling, but we began to really intensify our reading inspired by a real need that I was having in reaching our 6 year old, Sparkly. It was after reading and educating myself over the last year that I became convinced of its potential for all our children.
In a homeschooling environment, one cannot duplicate a Montessori classroom any more than one can duplicate the school classroom. I don’t think you should try to duplicate any classroom environment. But, even translated into a home environment, Montessori’s philosophies of “freedom within limits,” and “concrete before abstract” offer a child a way to learn independently while respecting the natural periods of time in a child’s life that he may learn with surprising insight.
Montessori’s astute observations were the inspiration for materials that were beautiful in their simplicity – free of flashing lights, superstar motifs, deafening whiz-bangs, or visual clutter. Their goal was to be the vehicle to lead the child to making connections. These connections are there for the making when the materials are free from distraction. This aspect in particular has made all the difference in the world for our keenly visually sensitive Sparkly. He is a child who craves order, needs logic, distracts easily. Sound familiar to anyone?
There have been a few sources that, more than others, have offered clarity in an educational method that requires a bit of a learning curve. Lori Bourne at Montessori for Everyone, is certified in Montessori Elementary, and has offered her expertise to me over and over again, through her blog, her awesome materials, and on the 4Real boards. Today, she has posted an illuminating article that answers many of the misunderstandings and objections that are still perpetuated – “Why Our World Needs Montessori…Badly.” Her article brings about an openness to a form of education that, while not for everyone, is worthy of recognition as a form of “real learning.”