Michael and Sharon
sharing their insights on Montessori education
Michael, a Capetonion who has lived in many places around the world, is a true wise man. He has read on almost every subject, and he cares particularly about educating the youth through reading.
Sharon is one of South Africa’s leading experts on Montessori education system. She has global consulting experience with Montessori schools in Russia and Spain.
We drew opinions and views from their well of knowledge in a 4-hour long discussion on Montessori education.
Q: What is the Montessori method?
A: According to Sharon, the Montessori method of teaching is not just a way of teaching but rather “a way of life” which is characterized by structure and freedom of choice which ultimately leads to an informed independent thinking mind not limited to just one trend of thought. In her overall description, “it is a way of student-oriented teaching focusing not on the class but rather the individual student as opposed to conventional teaching methods”.
Q: How do you teach in a Montessori classroom?
A: The class is conducted in silence with the teacher showing gestures of compassion in the lecture by touching the students and patting them to emphasize on any aspect. The rationale behind this is that the students will eventually get accustomed to this way of communication which in turn leads them to being compassionate and caring people to others as well.
Q: What is the role of authority in the Montessori classroom?
A: Authority plays an important role in the sense that, the method enforces an element of “mutual respect” between both the teacher and the students. The teacher approaches the students not as children but as “people”, because the teacher does not look at them as the kids they are but as the people they have the “potential to be”. “In my classroom, I handshake my students the same way I would do to a colleague in the morning “.
Q: Is it possible to create a standardized method and give it a name such as the “Confucius Montessori?”
A: ”I suppose so, yes”. The reason being that all over the world, the schools that claim to be Montessori all prefix the word with their name. The rationale behind such a tittle is to give a good image to the Chinese government and at the same time include some elements of Chinese culture to the Montessori curriculum.