Friday, November 11, 2011

Education and Reality

John Paul gave me a tour of his school notebooks and tests. He did this voluntarily (and enthusiastically). Every parent who has a child in school should definitely do this from time to time. In fact, do it frequently. This is your child's life. John Paul's life is really rich these days. He is learning some serious stuff at Chelsea. And he has done some creative projects of his own based on what he's been studying. He recently put together a power point presentation (just for fun) of Latin terms and their pictures corresponding to them.

Our son has had a Montessori education. He has learned to develop his interests in a creative and constructive way, dealing with reality--including the possibilities of multimedia. Montessori doesn't use computers; it's all "hardware," hands-on stuff. Calligraphy rather than word processing. And yet, the child who finishes the elementary level will take to computers like a fish to water. He has learned how investigate, how to be patient, how to be persistent in front of new things.

Montessori prepares a child for a secondary school education. He or she enters High School with a solid grasp of the basics of knowledge, but also with a great deal of experience, which fosters in him or her an inquiring mind, a sense of the diverse methods involved in approaching various kinds of subjects, and a readiness to take on new challenges.

I love the Montessori method. It is a realist education. In spite of what might seem like a superficial resemblance, the Montessori ideal is the opposite of the ideal of Rousseau. The point is not to leave the child "alone" so that the child can unfold the possibilities of his or her innate goodness. The point is to place the child in a pedagogically structured environment, so that he or she can discover truth, goodness, and beauty through a guided experience of real things. It is an education that corresponds to human nature.

And it is this human nature that I see maturing in my children.

For more information on the Montessori educational method, here is a useful link: