August 31, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dr. Montessori!


Yes, today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1870, of St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.

It just so happens that the Missus is over at school even now getting her classroom in order. Because I am left to deal with the Llama-ettes, who for some reason seem to need to be sent to neutral corners every five minutes today, I will just repost (for the second year running) my earlier chain-jerking homage:

I take the liberty of bestowing the honorary beatification in order to jerk the chain of the Missus, who is a hard-core Montessori purist and who, when enthusing about the virtues of Montessori education, can make the Ancient Mariner seem down right tight-lipped. (She goes back to teaching lower elementary full time this fall. And in all fairness, she has a gift and an enthusiasm for it that everybody should be so lucky to have in their job.) I say "purist" because there are an awful lot of programs out there that call themselves Montessori, but in fact are not. It's from these knock-offs that Montessori gets a good deal of its reputation as a sort of hippy-dippy educational free-for-all. The main battle lines, apparently, are drawn up between the Faithful, also known as Association Montessori Internationale, started by Dr. Montessori herself, and the apostate American Montessori Society. The Missus got her Masters in an AMI program and looks on the AMS crowd rather the same way in which the Montagues viewed the Capulets or, perhaps more accurately, Rome viewed Avingon. I'm not anywhere near qualified enough to tell you the specifics of the differences except to say that the AMI philosophy includes a great deal more structured learning than its competitors.

Needless to say, all of the Llama-ettes are Montessori kids. Indeed, my five year old's teacher has remarked that she is one of the best Montessori students the teacher's seen in thirty-odd years of teaching. As far as tangible results go, the eldest Llama-ette did just fine on her first standardized achievement tests this spring, placing well above her grade level in most subjects. So we must be doing something right. (Of course, I've long harbored the suspicion that any child who a) is naturally bright and b) is properly encouraged at home can probably do just fine in any reasonably competent educational system.)

On the other hand, we've spent a great deal of time and energy organizing the Llama-ettes' bedroom and playroom in approved Montessori fashion (on St. Marie's theory that children crave structure in their lives) and the gels regulalry leave them looking as if they had been hit by an F4 tornado. So who knows.

The nine year old Llama-ette moves into upper elementary this year, while the seven year old is in the middle of her lower elementary cycle and the five year old will be the oldest in her kindergarten class. I'm quite satisfied with their levels of knowledge and academic advancement, although their bedrooms and playroom still look federal disaster areas.

Posted by Robert at August 31, 2007 03:24 PM | TrackBack

Given your wife's background in Montessori, I'm surprised she's not the proto-Papist in the Llama household. :-)

Her "Mass Explained to Children" is on my Tridentine bookshelf -- I used it as a guide for myself when I started going to Latin Mass last year.

Posted by: The Colossus at August 31, 2007 03:35 PM

Heh. You've just given me a wicked Christmas present idea.....

Posted by: Robbo the LB at August 31, 2007 03:38 PM

"St. Marie's theory that children crave structure in their lives"

There are an awful lot of parents who need to have that message pounded into their head. Hard. And often.

Posted by: rbj at August 31, 2007 07:52 PM