Let’s discuss!

I’d like to start a small discussion about a few ideas. All comments are welcome!

I recently heard that Montessori Directresses can be of many varying degrees. Some can be completely strict and go only by the book, not varying from exactly what Maria taught. Others can be very loose in their interpretations and only use very few works and ideas. The middle of this puddle of thought would be those who understand the spirit of what Maria Montessori was striving for and are strict with their lessons and works, but also leave room for variations and expansions upon lessons. What kind of teacher do you identify yourself as? Please comment!

What brought this thought around was hearing one former Directress say “I believe that if computers had been around in Maria’s time, she would have loved them.” This made me think about the differences between AMS and AMI training. In AMS, your manual is printed out for you (Or at least at my school it is) and you can illustrate or provide photographs for the lessons inside. In AMI, teachers handwrite and can only illustrate and sparingly use photos. I know that AMI is the original Directress Training, and that they do it as Maria did herself. I wonder – Why are they not allowed to type their manuals? I know you can go back and type it later after you’re done, but I know there are plenty of teachers out there with handwritten manuals. The technology exists, why not use it? I hope I’m not crossing some forbidden Montessori line here, but I’m honestly curious. I’ve asked around, and what I’ve gotten from a few people is “I’m not sure…” What is your opinion on this?

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8 thoughts on “Let’s discuss!

  1. I guess I’ll get us started since everyone is being shy!

    I believe I am in the middle of the Montessori spectrum. I love the traditions and old works, but also respect our new technology and believe it should be incorporated as well! The beauty of the traditional handwashing with a basin is amazing, and I definitely intend to set up my classroom with a nice wash station. I also think computers are a valuable learning tool that we can begin to teach young ones.

    As far as the Manual debate goes, there are many things I don’t like about the AMS Manual I currently have, but I like that it is readily available for me. In the future I intend to do AMI training as well, and I know I’ll definitely feel a little spoiled. I can understand that writing your lessons is a great exercise in repetition (and great for handwriting practice!)

    Alright, now your turn!

  2. Well, I am in the middle too, or maybe not even there yet. I am not Montessori trained at all but have read most of her writings and others who have written about her and her methods, both in hard copy and online, older and newer authors. I don’t teach in a Montessori school, but teach in a public school kindergarten trying to follow her philosophy and methods as best I can. I bought my first Montessori book in 1974, when I was in high school. I definitely agree with the idea that Maria would have loved computers if they were around in her time. She would have been judicious in their use for the children, but I am sure that she would have used them. As for handwriting out albums, I would barely be able to do a page or so and my wrist would shut down. In my classroom we do not have a dishwashing area for the children to wash dishes by hand, but after they serve themselves snack, they load the dishwasher themselves. I don’t think that Montessori would be completely against progress but she would be very cautious not to jump on every bandwagon that drove by.

  3. I completely agree Melva! We have two 3-6 year old classrooms at the school I am currently at. One of them has a full kitchen, the other does not. In the classroom with the full kitchen, the children do dishwashing outside occasionally, but they also know how to load the dishwasher independently. I think it is a good skill to learn, so I’m glad that even though they do have that available to them they can still practice it.

    I know that I’m not looking forward to having to handwrite my Manuals – my handwriting is atrocious! It would hopefully improve, rather than go south, haha!

  4. Hi – I am joining the party a little late, so I hope that’s alright!

    I did my Montessori training here in England and was given a partly printed manual that I had to add to myself – extensions, illustrations and photos. I found writing out some of the work very useful and it is actually the exercises I remember the best. Those that we read through didn’t “stick” quite so well. Having said that, I did my training with three young children at home and I don’t think I would have finished the year if I had had to write everything and do the essays and projects.

    As to where I sit as regards to strictness. If you go back and read the original books then you find that Montessori often says that the teacher should introduce the materials in the correct way and check that the child has understood, using the 3 period lesson but that after that the child should be free to experiment. I would be horrified to find a school would only let children build the pink tower in a few set ways. Once the child has shown an interest in the pink tower s/he should be allowed to build freely, mixing it with the broad stair, knobless cylinders, colour tables, red rods etc. It is through experimentation that the child learns.

    In my classroom we have the 3D’s. A child is redirected if s/he is being Destructive, Disruptive or Disturbing. If none of those situations have arisen then s/he is free to carry on!

    1. Anna – Hey, any comments are welcome!

      I like the 3 D’s rule, I was looking for a different way to address destructive behavior during work time in the classroom, aside from saying “Please do not use the materials inappropriately”!

      So is your training AMI training? Or some sort of hybrid? I’m afraid I’m not really in-the-know as to the different training available right now, aside from my own AMS.

  5. I trained part time with Montessori Centre International (MCI). It’s one of 2 Montessori learning centres in the UK. The other is AMI – Association Montessori International. There is a part time centre close to where I live, and they are few and far between so I was lucky. MCI is more progressive, AMI is more traditional.

    We have classroom ground rules which I help the children form at the beginning of the school year. They need to cover the 3 D’s and general respect for each other, teachers and the environment. This year we have – Walking feet, indoor voices, kind hands, gentle bodies. We talk about the ground rules a lot, either with an individual child as the need arises or as a whole class. They have been very successful in helping the children understand the limits and as they thought up the wording they feel real ownership.

  6. I’m AMI trained, and we got to type our manuals on our computers as we went. However, the trainer was considering changing this. She had for many years had her students handwrite notes, then type the albums off the notes. Her explanation why handwriting was preferable was that she’s found that the quality of many albums now isn’t what it used to be when they were handwritten. Handwriting information helps engage the kinesthetic aspects of learning, and many times, it’s too easy to bypass engaging the brain and just type what you hear. Because handwriting takes longer, it requires more thought to take the kind of detailed notes you need, while keeping up with the information you’re receiving. Transferring from your written notes to typed albums also forces you to review your notes. Now that I’ve started reading albums at the training center I attended, I notice how there are a fair number of people each season who don’t re-read and edit their notes, but turn them in for their albums as completely unfinished documents. I definitely noticed that I felt much more comfortable with the information that I had typed and edited than the information where we worked collaboratively and shared files on.

    What other differences have you noticed between AMI and AMS? I haven’t worked with any AMS directresses trained at my level, which leaves me curious!

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