I didn't put up a post last night because we were at Aaron's school for a Primary Parent Education evening. It sounds like this is something regular but it was our first since Aaron has only recently joined the class. Last night's presentation was more of a celebration because the Australian national curriculum body has recognized the Montessori National Curriculum as an alternative national curriculum. It sounded like a big deal and I can see why it would be a big deal for the Montessori community in Australia - all Montessori schools now have the same curriculum and there is a document that affirms its methods and teachings as something 'official'. It does make me feel a little more confident that my child will end up learning everything they are supposed to know each year.
I know I sound as if I don't have any confidence in the school that I have chosen for Aaron. This is not the case. I think the Montessori way of educating a child holistically and within context of their lives is brilliant. I love that he will be able to explore and investigate independently but with the support of his teachers. The development of strategic thinking and self discipline is much more important to me than the ability to sit obediently in a classroom and only do homework that he is assigned because he has to.
My hesitation and insecurities about this very system stem from the fact that I have no personal experience with it. It is so far removed from my own childhood education and the many beliefs that my mother has ingrained in me that I can't help but question the "follow the child" motto that drives the Montessori way. How do they know what is good for them? What if they don't choose the right activities? What if they aren't born with any curiosity to investigate anything? All this requires me to trust the teachers in his class more than I think I would need to in a traditional school. There is no homework for me to check up on his work with. No exams to give me some indication on where he stands amongst his peers. I'm in the dark! So, its back to the teacher again. There are meetings with the teacher every term and I have my first one in two weeks.
I've been thinking about it a lot. I need to sound like an interested parent, but I don't want to be labeled as one of those overbearing control freak parents that teachers probably try to avoid. Neither do I want them to think I'm one of those parents that are always worried about their child because they may then only give me the good side of things. Finally, I want them to know that I intend to continue teaching him at home even though they feel that the home is for fun activities, i.e. play. I teach him things in fun ways (except for Chinese) and I want to do this in a complementary way to the things he is exposed to at school. (OK, so maybe there is a bit of that control freak parent in me but they don't need to know that.)
So, let me end this post with this video clip. It sums up what the Montessori system is and why it is so attractive to me.