By Joel Batson – Tōtara Teacher, Primary
Two years ago I left a job teaching in the New Zealand public school system to teach here at Wā Ora.
Back then, the pull to work in Montessori was heightened by the knowledge I had already gained through my wife and I sending our son along to Wā Ora to be in Pohutukawa class. I could see that the way Montessori did things was different to mainstream and that those differences aligned with some of the things I had always thought could be done better.
Since then, as a part of my ongoing Montessori training, I have been fortunate to be able to see Montessori environments in action in a number of different settings, both in New Zealand and Australia, at different levels and in different stages of development.
Through these experiences and through working alongside the great team at Wā Ora, my convictions about how Montessori works and what it’s all about really seem to have grown and deepened.
So as I reflect, I find that a Montessori education is truly supposed to function as an “aid to life” (Maria Montessori) and seeks to see and develop the potential in each and every child that walks through the doors.
I see that a Montessori education strives to take care of the whole child. And yes it really does try to look at the child holistically, meeting the child where they are at and figuring out what their next steps are – physically, emotionally, socially and academically. The child is then encouraged to consider the spiritual side of themselves; to contemplate the part they have to play in the universe.
I also see that a Montessori education looks to create community. It is about the child and all those invested in that child’s life and well-being working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for that child. And that outcome really is a joyful child that is excited about learning and able to think creatively for him or herself. I see that this excitement for learning can only really occur if it is also modelled by the others in the environment, both children and adults.
In my musings over the past few years I am pleased to find that Maria Montessori in many ways was actually in just the right place as a scientist to stumble upon what could easily be called ‘common sense’.
You do not need to be in a strictly ‘Montessori’ environment to achieve the above outcomes. Other people in other times and places have taught children in such ways. But, through the Montessori Method we are privileged to have a proven scientific way, supported by more and more modern research, of making sure that these things can and will happen for as wide a range of children as possible.