I have been interested in the Montessori pedagogy for a while. As you can see, I already have been able to read a quite a few books on the topic, at that moment, with a parent point of view, and not a homeschooler, nor as a college teacher (which I am). After making the decision that we would homeschool, I got out the books I already owned, and went to the library to get some more, this time to read with another perspective in mind.
I will be, in the next few weeks, be doing book reviews to try to get out the concepts and information that I could find useful in my endeavor. And have to admit that the more I read, the more addicted I am to this pedagody...and secretly plotting to eventually be able to apply this method with my college students in my classes. (I have even started to get books about the older age range and the methods used at that point)
SO I started with a first read of the Montessori writings. It was "L'enfant" (the child), a book writte byt Dr Montessori herself about her views of the preschooler. It was a quick read, but yet very enlighting.
Here are the conclusions that I have drawn from that book:
You need 3 external point in order to be able to use the "method"
-the adapted ambiance
-the humble master
I guess these 3 are what Dr montessori refered to the "prepared environnement"
There are also internal factors that are essentials to the good results seen byt Dr Montessori in her first Casa Dei Bambini
Concentrated Individual work (in my opinion making homeschooling a possibility even if this method was not intended for homeschooling)
Repetition of the exercice
Free choice of the work to be done
and this is how the "conversion" can be achieved.
Maria Montessori thought that every child, given these factors, would develop to it's full potential,and reveal the true Men inside him. All his energy are driven towards constructing himself. But if, for some reasons, the conditions are not met, deviations start to appear, because all this energy, inside the child, are not send "at the right place", and deviate to create unusual behaviors.
These deviated behaviors include: disorder, disobedience, greed, egoism, tamtrums...but also creative imagination (!), liking stories, attachment, curiosity, inconsistancy, instability, which are all traits that we consider normal in the young child. I have to admit that I was particularly surprized when reading this part! I really thought that creative imagination was something desirable in the young child, and was somehow distress to see the lack of this in my own children (when I was talking about them being down to earth, that was what I meant). But from what I understand, it is a good thing. A child living in the best conditions to permit the maturation of his own self don't need to imaginate things, to create stories, or play with toys. He is much rather interested in discovering his environement, and practicing the things he has learn. Again, the play with toy thing, which is something I have noted here. Toys are not my kid's thing.
Overall, I thought this book was an interesting read to start with. It helps me see what he line of thought is about preschoolers, which makes subsequent reads easier to understand. I know where she is coming from... Of course, there are part of this book where you feel like everytime kids misbehave or throw some kind of tamtrum, is the parent's resposabilty, and that if you knew better, or did better, or understood the child better, the later would suddenly be the perfect little human being. (her illustrations of a situations are really like that) But I think she still makes her point.
LOOK AT THE CHILD
THis is a really small book written by Alice Wolf. It is a very fast read, but yet very interesting.
It shows the basics of the Montessori principles, with illustrations. THings like "listen to the child" And "understand her impulses" are the things that are illustrated. The power of the hand, and the necessity to be involved in the real life.
It was a perfect book to show my husband, who is not a reader, to grasp the basic concept of the method.