There are a lot of questions and myths that a Montessori parent encounters in their day to day life. And this post is trying to capture most of the most common misconceptions on the Montessori system, that I have encountered till date in chronological order.
Misconceptions on the Montessori System:
- Montessori curriculum is not at all academic.
- Research shows that Montessori children reach higher academic levels when compared to children studying in traditional schools. The reason behind this is the motivation of the Montessori children to learn their subjects of choice. And this motivation gives them higher academic excellence.
- Montessori teachers just don’t teach. As they don’t have any textbooks or notebooks and also no blackboard in the classroom
- Indeed, Montessori teachers don’t use the blackboard to teach. But their role as the knowledge perpetrator can’t be ignored. They give presentations to the individual child or to a small group of children and then step back so that the children can explore independently till the time they gain confidence on that particular topic.
- How come there is no homework for the Montessori children
- As per, Montessori philosophy, the children have spent the entire morning learning various activities in the school and hence the evenings are meant to be spent with family members in a relaxing way. This allows them to explore the world around their house and also gives them ample time to mingle with others. The child will also be able to help the parents in the household activities, which are again informal learnings for him.
- Also technically, the children would not have access to the Montessori tools at home to work on their homework, that is another reason, why Montessori schools discourage the homework.
- Montessori classrooms don’t have any structure and are chaotic.
- For an outsider, the Montessori classroom definitely looks chaotic, as kids sit everywhere and would be working. But this environment has been prepared very carefully based on the children’s developmental needs by the teachers. Children are free to move and explore but within the limits set by the teacher. This environment reinforces the primary Montessori principle of freedom within limits.
- Montessori method is only for self-learners (or gifted children) or for the children with special needs.
- Montessori methods are purely child-centric. So they are effective with all the children and would suit both self-learners as well as children with learning disabilities. These methods never distinguish the children based on their learning abilities.
- Montessori children will not have any discipline
- On the contrary, the Montessori children have more self-discipline when compared to the children who study in traditional schools, as these children are used to the freedom within limits. So they automatically get tuned to act more disciplined. This discipline is inculcated in the kids without using sticks or punishments, as they understand the consequences and know what are the situations that need to be avoided.
- Older classmates bully the younger ones and hence Montessori kids become very timid and shy
- Yes, the Montessori environment always consists of a mixed age group children. The older children are often treated as role models by younger children. All children benefit from peer to peer teaching and working in groups. Because there is no competition, children feel comfortable sharing their knowledge and experience with other kids.
- Playful kids will never sit down and learn in the Montessori system.
- Montessori prepared environment consists of only the work activity items and not the playthings. When all the children are busy working on one or other activity, even the most playful kid would sit down to work on an activity of his own interest. Once he understands the joy of handling the work items independently, he would sit down to learn/work automatically, without any pressure. That is why Montessori schools are stress-free for the children.
- Montessori children can’t compete in the outside world.
- As there are no exams or trophies to be won in the Montessori world, most of the adults think that Montessori children don’t have an idea about competition. But Dr. Maria Montessori termed these motivators like trophies, grades, class rankings as external motivators, which wouldn’t sustain in the long run for continuous achievement. She proposed an intrinsic environment, where the children learn to achieve higher potential only through their internal need and motivation. So the Montessori children understand that the value of competition is more for engagement and fulfilling their need to achieve the higher potential and not for just winning trophies or medals.
- Montessori children are not allowed to play.
- The children below 6 years age can’t distinguish between work or play. All they do in the Montessori classroom is play for them. They enjoy being among their peers and interacting with them. Creative play like music, art, storytelling, drama are all included in the Montessori curriculum along with the gross motor skill-developing activities.
Another one of the misconceptions on the Montessori system that I found is that this system is mainly for rich people. But honestly, the school fees across various Montessori schools are more or less equal to that of the traditional schools.
“….education is not what the teacher gives: education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual. It is acquired by not listening to words, but by experiences upon the environment”– Dr. Maria Montessori
As we have seen most of the misconceptions on the Montessori system are born mainly out of ignorance, as this system is not still very popular in India. If we do little research, one would understand that this system would really introduce the joy of learning to the children. Hope you all agree to this statement. Please let me know your views on this Montessori series in the comments.
Dear Reader, this is the seventh part of the eight-part Montessori Method and its philosophy Series and please stay tuned for further updates on the same topic. In the next part, the most important books that one can read to understand the Montessori philosophy would be addressed.