Thanks to Teacher Tom for sharing this post about how children at his preschool make their own rules and aren’t subjected to authoritarianism. Authoritarian parenting/teaching only teaches children that “might makes right.” He gives examples of how it really works even though it’s one of the most difficult approaches to raising children because it requires so much patience, work, and trust. It also, I believe, has to be a commitment from all parents, close community, and other family members, to be equally as consistent and devoted to this approach as Teacher Tom is. In my experience, if children don’t have consistent practice with making their own choices, it’s often difficult to get them to be able to do so in a large community together. This is not something that can only be done by the teachers at school. Congratulations to Teacher Tom and other similarly dedicated teachers for being able to create such a peaceful childhood community!
Similar to Montessori’s concept of “unnecessary help”, what Janet Lansbury means by the title of her article is, when we feel a need to step in at every struggle, we must step back and realize that a child benefits when we restrain from interfering in the process of learning. Test your reaction to watching this short video of a child using a scissors. Read this brief article to understand what it means to “help” a child vs. interrupting or interfering in a child’s opportunity to learn for him- or herself.
I was delighted to learn that the Global Teacher Prize was awarded to an independent school teacher who has a mission not only to improve education directly, but also by teaching other teachers her methods. She realizes that alternative approaches to the traditional public school model are necessary, including choice, freedom, and meaningful assessments. I’m happy to see that she reaches out to other teachers to spread this idea and to share her successes. This is something I aspire to do as well, starting with the opening of a small in-home school. I can’t certify anyone in Montessori, but I can definitely share the philosophy and spread the Montessori message. These ideas should not be kept secret! They need to be shared as widely as possible. This is how we can make a change in our world and create a more peaceful society.
I’m curious to know, however, if and how public school teachers could incorporate any of this teacher’s practices. In my public school teaching experience, it was a huge risk to break away from “covering” specific concepts. I was evaluated harshly when administrators witnessed “freedom” of learning in my classroom. In addition, I saw that since children didn’t have practice dealing with a “free” class period, the time was often wasted. The children didn’t know how to make the choice of how to use free time wisely. This is still the biggest hurdle, and the biggest sacrifice for parents to make for their children’s benefit. How can independent schools compete with “free” public education?