Some years ago, Dan Myers wrote a series of posts on his awesome (now invitation-only) blog that inspired me to send my kid to Montessori school. Kid was 3, and school was just around the corner anyway, so I looked into the local options, and I found a great school. He went all though pre-school there and is still there, just about to finish Grade 1 (Canadians would want you to notice that they say Grade 1, not first grade).
One of the things about Montessori is that they don’t evaluate the kids’ learning in the usual way with tests and report cards and notes home. There is good research on this that shows that the love of the gold star or the A+ will undermine the love of learning itself as kids want to get praised rather than learn more. It’s a strikingly different approach than public school, which gives near-constant feedback to kids and parents about how they are doing and whether they are ahead or behind.
So, Kid’s teacher evaluates the students’ progress in ways that are invisible to the kids and mostly to parents, too. Unless there is an issue that requires parents’ attention, we remain rather clueless until the end of the year, when there is a big reveal of all the things learned and progress made. Even then, it’s a private conference to which the kids are not privy.
From parents’ perspective it’s like a home renovation show where they take off your blindfold in your totally re-designed kitchen. Our chat with the teacher is scheduled for tomorrow, so who knows what this crazy 7-year-old has been up to, learning-wise? But we got a sneak peak this week, when we got to sit in on his class for 20 minutes. We spent the entire time gawking at him and his hidden talents (piano? fractions? French? Seriously? Did he seriously just multiply 3/7 by 4, because half my undergrads cannot do that!)
We are flabbergasted and amazed, but we must keep it to ourselves, as the secret to his accomplishments is that no one makes a fuss over what he can or can’t do. They just show him (or let him discover) how cool it is to figure these things out, and he just keeps going, and the school just lets him go, learning as much as he wants. It is unbelievably awesome.
So, the whole Montessori thing is working out really well so far. We will keep him in in this school as long as we can. It is a fantastic system that is just what he needed. And just one more thing I owe to the blogs. Thanks, Dan!