IMC 2017 survey results
During my talk at IMC 2017 — July 29, 2017
First of all I want to thank the 27 contributors to the survey. I hope to have deciphered correctly your handwriting.
I have learned a lot, also from an error I made. I numbered 1 and 2 the questions both in the first survey and in the second one. The people have circumvented this problem with very creative solutions.
Choosing a Montessori school compared to my experience
This first survey was focused on understanding how other parents decided to send their children to a Montessori school and how much this choice was “rational”, that is, based on knowledge.
Many parents know what they want for their children, choosing Montessori is a natural consequence. Unfortunately Montessori schools are not cheap and this is a barrier.
Word of mouth is very important. Maybe we can send info about Montessori schools also to other schools in the area.
Can we make simpler to parents to find info on Montessori? Can we show that the parent’s needs are well satisfied by a Montessori school?
Why did you choose a Montessori school?
I know what I want
- I want my children to be independent and self-reliant for their self-esteem to come from within and for their social and moral development to be considered as important as their academic development plus respect.
- Respect of the rhythm of the child. The materials: I could also see mathematics!
- Because I believed that every child is an individual person.
- I believe my daughter will learn more about all subjects and get a sense of herself as a part of the whole.
- I’m a psychologist and found that the Montessori system is the friendliest for a child as its bases are.
- Everything that happens at a Montessori school just makes sense. It is scientific yet down to earth.
- Respect for childhood.
- Respect to each child. No punishment. Calmness.
- Montessori education is brilliant, complex and based on science.
- To provide a powerful environment to my kids. In which they can grow knowledge.
- I knew from years of teaching in prep schools and colleges that traditional classrooms usually failed to reach the students.
- I knew that Montessori would help my children open their potential and connect to their new teacher.
Already know Montessori
- I chose Montessori for my three children because I was already trained from a school.
- My wife is a Montessori teacher. We were already convinced it is the best for our children.
- Because I had a volunteer experience in a Montessori kindergarten in India.
- Montessori pedagogy fascinated me when I was a mother. Conventional training is not what I want for my daughter.
- I chose a Montessori school because I had done research into the method and knew the method would suit my child.
- Maria Montessori had been in India for 8 years and her approach was well known.
Word of mouth
- My friend recommended it to me, to have a look/try and it was in front of my house.
- My mother founded a Montessori school 3-6 in Holland in a villa (with friends). I was the child. Now I’m a Montessori teacher.
- Because of friends already at a Montessori school.
- Because a very close cousin was a Montessori teacher and told me that is was the best gift that I could give to my children.
- Like your situation by daughter also went to a public kindergarten and was not happy. The kindergarten director actually suggested that I send her to a Montessori pre-school.
- It was recommended to me by my son’s preschool teacher, at that time, because we were moving across the country. She said: “I think your son would do very well in a Montessori school”.
- My wife made me do it. Now we are school owners.
Not choosing a Montessori school
- I wanted to choose a Montessori school, but in Italy it’s a bit expensive.
What did you know about Montessori at that time?
A little or nothing
- I knew a little and was immediately convinced.
- However I (mother) did not know anything about her educational method.
- Basically nothing, just 10 sentences from the internet.
- That the respect for the child’s individual way of learning is important.
- From a few articles just general info about freedom, respect and special material.
- Not much before.
- I know a bit.
- Not so much.
- I had some information, not deep. Respect choice, no pressure to do exactly what others do.
- Just and only what my cousin have told me an act of faith and hope. If their children are prepared, why it is an act of faith?
- I had zero knowledge of Montessori at that time.
- Nothing. In fact I think it is a great pity that not much is known about the potential of this method. The reason for my presence at this congress lies in the passion of exploring this method discovered by chance in India. At the same time I want to do my best to contribute actively to both the improvement of this method and its dissemination.
- I knew nothing about Montessori at that time.
- Not a lot.
- At that time, I had a 3 days introduction on Montessori pedagogy.
- We fell in love with Montessori.
- I am a Montessori teacher.
- My brother and sisters (we had 7 children) went to the same school.
- Quite a lot.
- I learned from Paula Polk Lillard’s book Montessori Today that the method achieved what I have identified as most important: cosmic education, independence and collaborative work.
- The method develops children to cope with the world as it fosters autonomous education.
- At the moment I have a blog about Montessori pedagogy. I’m fascinated with that.
- I had attended many open days and had done a lot of research. I knew everything about it.
Parent’s doubts and fears
Here I collect the results of the second survey questions, because the theme is common: the doubts and fears of the parents. I listed few of them during the talk and (at least one) parents agreed they are real problems. The questions were:
- What doubts did you notice in other Montessori’s parents?
- What are the most frequently asked questions you have ever heard from other parents?
The main concern for parents is about what happens after the Montessori school. This question has been extensively answered in the Montessori FAQ (and in Italian).
The difference with other pedagogical approaches should be collected somewhere, not to conclude “we are the best” or to denigrate other approaches, but to give to the parents data on which to decide the best school for their children.
Still you hear comparisons with the “real world”. See the comment of a Montessori school principal. Also, if we want to change the world, we cannot prepare the children to save the status quo. Maybe from our side we should improve and clarify our explanations of “They do what they want”.
The kids learn what they should learn? Parents lose control on the learning activities done at school (just to use the traditional language) and the children generally return home and at the question “What have you done today at school?” Answer: “Nothing” because there they did nothing special. They simply lived their lives. Maybe we should “train” parents to observe other changes in their children not related to academic evaluations.
Another struggle is between creativity or fantasy and the perceived rigidity of the Montessori method.
Comparing our school experience with the Montessori’s kids one is really difficult at times. For example, today a teacher with 24 children is always on the verge of nervous breakdown. Instead you read of the first Montessori schools with one teacher for 100 children. We should be able to transmit the reason of the difference.
We should finish with a last important point. If the parents do not care about what happens to their children, we can imagine very creative way to explain Montessori’s ideas but they do not came.
Here are the answers of the talk’s audience.
What happens after the Montessori school
- What advantages will my child have gained by going to a Montessori school when he/she moves to a traditional school?
- Will the students be ready for the next step? (public, youth school)
- What happens after Montessori? Do they adapt?
- Concerns about readiness for secondary school tests, traditional secondary classrooms, and ability to get into college/university.
- The most common question: How will my child do in a public school and with new friends?
- How do children adapt to the traditional system once they leave Montessori school?
- How will they socialize in a big environment? How will they cope with tests and homework?
- What happens when they go to another school? What about organized sporting teams? What about discipline?
- Will my child be able to make a positive transition to a normal school after leaving Montessori?
- Do children learn here? Do they manage exams later in life?
- How will the child adapt to a traditional school system again?
- What is going to happen after primary school?
- Not prepared for deadlines
- The child will not be prepared for normal school or the child will be too “prepared” and will be bored in school.
- The greatest doubt is whether their child is up to academic level and will adjust to new school.
- What happens after school?
- Some parents think their children will not cope in mainstream high school
Differences with other schools
- Is it a Catholic (church) school?
- What is the biggest difference between Montessori and public school?
- Parents ask for the similarities with Steiner and others.
- Which is the best way to know which certification is the best?
The “real” world
- How they deal with the “real world”?
- He must know how to defend (from the real world).
- What are they going to do in the real world?
- How children will adapt later in traditional school and society?
- The children do what they want. This is not real life.
- How do the Montessori child can live in this world: huge, in hurry, selfish…
What they should learn
- If the children can chose their work, how can you make sure they learn what they “have” to learn?
- What is my child learning and how do I know?
- Can you show me a program?
- For creativity it is OK, but about math...
- Are the kids learning what they should?
- “Do they learn enough?” They are afraid the children not do “school work”.
- Parents worry about not having control of what students learn. No solid curriculum. No creativity.
- What does my child do at school? How do I know he has a “good” level (no paper produced, no exams)?
Fantasy and creativity
- Are my children playing?
- Parents worry about the lack of fantasy play
In the classroom
- How do I know they are getting time with the teacher?
- Montessori is not for every child. Some children do not have intrinsic motivation.
- Is there one teacher for a group of 24 children?
- Are my children making friends and socializing?
Parents and school
- What can be done if parents do not come to school for parents’ meetings where Montessorian philosophy and methodology is explained?
- The other parents who do not known the method think it is based only on the bed on the floor. Parents who don’t understand the basis of pedagogy are hardly going to get the application and perceive it in a whole.