Education has always been one of the most important aspects of my life. Striving for more knowledge, even outside of my comfort zone, is what I try to work towards on a daily basis. There are certain things in my life that help me with that, such as famous quotes. Just about everyone has some sort of line that has been stated by an individual they view as great (whether that is a friend, family member, someone famous, or a complete stranger, is completely up to them). There are no rules for who we, as individuals, view as important or influential in our lives. For me, one of those people would be Maria Montessori.
Have you ever read one of her many thoughts on how we should educate children?
She is one of the biggest factors as to why I chose to pursue an education degree as an undergraduate. Education is one of the most important factors for any society or group to be able to progress forward into the inevitable future. Education should be viewed as a starting point, or foundation, regardless of what it is for (i.e. individual, community, country, etc.). Unfortunately, in many cases, school can end up becoming viewed as a mundane task. Which is why so many essentially “give up” and just do the bare minimum to get by. Which is how we end up with such a gap between basic knowledge and understanding as a population.
The way students are taught, along with what they are taught as they develop, will be their foundation for the rest of their lives. From what I have seen and experienced, though, we are not achieving that with every student within our schools. What we are having them develop is a rocky surface that is impossible to build on without the necessary tools; an unfinished foundation that they no longer have the means to finish it.
I say this as someone who always felt like an outsider in public schools. I finished my last six years of K-12 schooling in public schools but started at a private Montessori school, so my foundation is from before my 7th-grade year. My understanding of why there are so many individuals with such rocky foundations is this:
Public schools are controlled by so many required tests to develop statistics, that it is crippling the current and future generations. What good are these tests if the ones taking them are not really benefitting from them?
Students are being taught a broad scope of information, regardless of interest or necessity, while we leave hardly any room for exploration within topics for personal and developmental growth, which is how we end up with eighth graders that ask questions along the lines of, “Is France in Italy?” Montessori environments can teach you everything a public school can, but at the same time, leaves so much room open for individuals to learn on their own.
One of the many concepts and beliefs that come from Maria Montessori is creating a learning environment where the students have been guided [by their teacher], but have continued their learning and exploration without the teacher “holding their hand” every step of the way. That is when she (Maria Montessori) felt the teacher has truly succeeded.
So, in order for education and our future to succeed, we need to stop with this whole, “proving a subject is truly worthwhile to have in schools,” and, “teaching to the test,” mentalities. Because, if we really allowed a teacher to do the job they are most passionate about, without having all of these mandated tests, I feel our future and educational system would be that much brighter.
Chelsea Miller is currently an employee out at the Jackson County Green Energy Park, working as the Program Assistant. She graduated from Western Carolina University (WCU) in December of 2014 with a B.S.Ed. and a BFA and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at WCU. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2017 by Chelsea R. Miller.