Montessori: Let’s keep it simple

There was a hot discussion about Montessori last week and it made me reflect on why I am so sold out on this method of education, yet some of us are bent on passing it off as an old garment that has outlived its benefits. I considered the points raised about Montessori being expensive, not suited for Nigeria, and it’s being archaic and decided that we may be missing a great opportunity here if we do not keep it really simple…

Instead of getting caught up in the arguments for and against the Montessori Method, I prefer to look at why the Montessori method of educating a child has survived a hundred years and is still waxing strong.

Please first consider, why do we educate our children? What is the purpose? And beyond that what is our hope for our children tomorrow?

We all want our children to grow up to become strong, intelligent and useful adults who would be able to carry on the business of building the nation and nurturing the next generation. We look forward to them making our families proud with their individual achievements, we want them to put Nigeria firmly on the map as the Giant of Africa, right? To do this we are looking forward to a new generation of Nigerians with grit and ethos, no corruption garbage lurking in the shadows!

Dreams, Dreams, Dreams…

Yet all this and more Montessori can deliver and has delivered. The reason why I am here writing this article is because Montessori meets the needs and tendencies of the child. I realised this the first time someone really spoke to me about Montessori and the Montessori child.

Children love Montessori, if you do it right, children behave right in true Montessori settings, children learn to love learning when they are shown life the Montessori way.

Montessori speaks to the heart of the child and encourages a well-rounded development and not just memorizing facts and figures. In the Montessori setting ‘Understanding is key’ and who doesn’t know that once there is understanding teaching has been successful and life long learning has taken place?

This is what Montessori delivers and this is why parents are looking for good, great world-class Montessori schools.

And yes it is expensive, but with everything, school owners lets use wisdom. It could cost an arm and a leg if we let it, but there are ethical ways around this issue. It will still cost you but it does not have to be that bad that you do not try because of the cost. The benefits far out weigh the cost, so far as I can see and my personal experience has proved this.

Parents, please when you come across a Montessori School doing it right, be prepared to support and encourage them. The expenses of running a Montessori school compared to the traditional school is high. If we want it surely we should be prepared to pay for it.

Also School Owners, please make sure that your fees are competitive so that this wonderful method that really speaks to the heart of every child can be more accessible.

Although the Montessori Method can be a very useful tool for Special Needs Education cases, this is not the primary aim of the method, so please lets find out more about Montessori, and lets stop promoting this old wives tale about Montessori being a method used solely for children with learning difficulties!

Lastly this idea that Montessori can’t work in Nigeria, where did that come from? What makes Nigeria so different from any other country in the world? Why would it work elsewhere but not in Nigeria?

Is it because we are so poor that we cannot afford the materials? If our government spent money where they should we could afford to build the most beautiful and well equip[ed Montessori State Schools, but instead we get dilapidated buildings instead!

If it is not a money issue then is it because our children cannot learn the Montessori way? I hope there is no one thinking like this unless the Nigerian child does not have the same inborn characteristics of the child regardless of where they were born. I have seen and can testify that the Nigerian child has the same needs and tendencies that other children of the world have. Let’s harness this and make the best use of Montessori for the better. Nigeria deserves much more credit.

Parents again, I must ask this, are we the reason why people are of the opinion that Montessori cannot work in Nigeria? I ask because as parents we tend to more or less dictate to the schools and teachers,

‘Put my child in this class and not that class!’

‘Give lots of homework, they need it.’

‘My 3 year old should be writing 1 to 150 by now!

‘Why are you still using Pre-School books in Nursery 2/3? They should be working on Primary 1 material!’

Please let the educators do their work. This is a profession, you wouldn’t be telling your doctor what prescriptions he should give you for your high blood pressure, or would you do that?

Since Montessori works with the philosophy of ‘following the child’ I can see why we may think that it won’t work, because it seems that we may be following the parent and not the child.

All I can say is that any Montessori School worth it’s weight in gold needs to rise up to the challenge and show Nigeria that Montessori works and can work in Nigeria.

As we start the new school year I wish all school Montessori or Traditional. Happy resumption. Let’s keep it simple and speak to the heart of our children.

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