The Myths of Montessori

When you hear about a “Montessori School”, the words education, religion, daycare, even lack of structure may come to mind, but “Montessori” is actually the name of Italian doctor. Dr. Maria Montessori, who created an educational philosophy more than 100 years ago that centers around the children and their personal development. The philosophy is based on scientific observations which allows students to gain their functional independence and learn at their own pace.

Many schools claim to follow the century-old form of education but few truly practice what makes a Montessori school authentic. Because of that, there are many myths surrounding exactly what it means to be a “Montessori School.”

One common myth is that children can do whatever they want, when they want, for a long as they want without boundaries, guidelines or common sense. In reality, Montessori is a what’s considered a “well-structured philosophy” which is based on scientific observations of the teacher (guide). Each environment is meticulously created and prepared so the need of every child is met. It creates a space where students can make decisions based on the options the guide has laid out for them, with each task creating a specific positive aspect of the child’s development. When it comes to boundaries, they’re set by what’s physically surrounding the child rather than a piece of paper or bulletin board with a poster stating “The Golden Rules” to always be followed by children.

Another common myth is that there are no “teachers” and this can leave the classroom a lawless, chaotic space. In a traditional and authentic Montessori setting, teachers are considered guides. They are an authority figure but are never an authoritarian enforcing strict obedience with a lack of personal freedom. A guide is there to serve, encourage, and nourish the spirit of each child so that the student is able to make its own discoveries in a controlled setting.

A third myth that surrounds a Montessori school, is that the child doesn’t work, they only play. At a young age, often times when the child is playing, they are learning. That’s why the surrounding of the child is so crucial to development and the preparation going into each classroom setup is an important part of the student’s growth. Every Montessori environment is an extension of home with the child getting treated with respect and dignity in every situation of the day.

Finally, one of the myths surrounding a Montessori school is that students will not transition into a traditional schoolroom well since the learning techniques are different than ones they’re used to. The truth is that children usually have an easier time adjusting to change because of the adaptation skills learned in the Montessori environment with their encouraged independence and their problem solving ability through any obstacle that may come their way.

These are only some of the stereotypes and myths surrounding the Montessori learning style, but this may give a parent a better understanding of what the learning environment truly entails.

A Montessori school can give a child a phenomenal hands-on experience everyday. Becoming more familiar with the philosophy and individualized care that goes into each student, will help parents to better understand this form of education.

Jared Brasher