What does learning look like and when does it take place? How many educational theorists have come up with answers to this question? Educational philosophies are often created in universities and then inserted into the classroom. The expectation being that the children will conform to the structure that was thought best for them. Does this seem wrongheaded?
Dr. Montessori first observed children. Her educational method was based on what she saw children needed at each stage of development to reach their fullest potential. In a nutshell, that’s why it works and has worked for so long. It came from the children; it wasn’t imposed on them.
So what does learning look like?
Before enrolling at Montessori School of Duluth, all prospective parents must observe the class their child will be in. When they come we ask them to choose a few words that describe the children they see in class. “Engaged,” “concentrating” and “challenged” are some of the words we most often hear. The only way real learning can take place is when children are given the freedom and time to choose work. Don’t they just choose easy work? They could, sure, but how much fun would that be? A certain amount of trust and belief in the child is required for it to work. When we extend that to them, the students show us that they prefer challenging work.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, the idea really is the same, isn’t it? The work we do that’s most satisfying is work that we’re invested in, work that pushes and challenges and helps us to reach our own potential.