‘Ask a Montessori Child’ written by Carol Palmer, Tawhai teacher

As many of you know I am currently undergoing my AMI Montessori training.  This is the most demanding challenge I have ever undertaken, it requires me to leave my family for weeks on end and consumes all of my spare time when I am at home, so understandably my loved ones want to know why on earth I am doing this when I am already a qualified teacher.

The answer is this – I am inspired by the Montessori child.  Because Montessori children shine.  And I don’t just mean they do well in tests or can sit quietly for an hour and write you an essay on a given subject, though of course they can do that.  If you ask a Montessori child to recite their times tables – fine, they can do that too.  If you ask them how to punctuate a sentence or construct a report – also not a problem.

But if you really want to see the power of Montessori education, ask a Montessori child how our galaxy formed; what the layers of our atmosphere are made up of or why ice floats on water.  Ask them to calculate pi for you, or find the volume of a sphere. Ask them to draw the atomic structure of barium, or label all the parts of a leaf. Ask them how to cook a nutritionally balanced meal for a family on a tight budget.

Ask a Montessori child to draw you a map of the world, labelling all the waterways, mountain ranges and continental boundaries.  Or better yet, give them an imaginary map with just the rivers marked and get them to show you where the mountains and human settlements would naturally lie.

And as they answer you, watch the light shine out of the Montessori child’s eyes.  Watch their joy in sharing their hard earned knowledge with you.  For a Montessori child is not just given this knowledge; they are guided to find it for themselves; it’s theirs and they are proud of it.

And if they can’t answer you, but they know you are interested, come back tomorrow and ask again – they’ll know next time, because a Montessori child knows how to find out.

So if you want to explore the arts, make leaps in science and nurture a lifelong love of learning; if you want creative thinking and the ability to problem solve in an ever changing society – ask a Montessori child.