This is interesting... anyone care to discuss? (it might only be interesting for people interested in education, though :wink:)
Ruth...I just spent 8 hours today in an inservice geared toward shifting our districts focus back to the middle school philosophy. Basically...how we've spent some much time and effort on test scores and curriculumn that the schools have lost focus on the child. We looked at the curriculum is only 1/3 of the piece. I def. walked away with a refreshed perspective of my kids. One thing that jumped out in the animation was the whole ADHD epidemic as they said. Part of what we looked at today was how teachers are not remembering the physcial developement of young adolescents (ie...tailbone fusing,etc and how they CAN'T sit still very long). And remembering just how important movement is when we plan lessons at any content....sorry if my thoughts are disjointed...i'm just tired.
This touches on a couple things that are hot buttons for me lol! Since way back working with kids with risk issues, I've had problems with children getting diagnosed with ADHD. I think it's a real disorder as far as I believe there is an extremely small segment of the young population that has problems with impulse control, etc, but not enough that it's anywhere near an epidemic. I totally believe what was stated in the video, basically it's the easy out, sometimes for both parents and teachers, to medicate a child to be something out of a 1950's movie, obedient and silent. I worked with a 7 year old girl who was medicated for ADHD as well as being bipolar and having a social disorder. I won't go into the millions of issues I have with THAT diagnosis of a 7 year old, it's the reason I would never work with that population again, doctors and parents just don't want to hear that more likely than not, the child is acting in a very normal sense for their age. During a classroom visit, she was sent to detention because she wanted to sit sideways in her seat instead of facing forward. The teacher asked her a few times to face forward, she said politely that she really preferred to sit the other way. Off to detention. While I understand that every child cannot distract other children just because they want to do something not conforming with the teacher's request, I could not understand the crime. So every child might then sit not facing forward? Who cares, what does that have to do with whatever was on docket for that day?? Which brings me to my love for Montessori education. Somehow, they make it work, allow kids to sit how they want, learn at their own pace, work collaboratively in groups, teach and learn from each other, age doesn't determine grade level, ability does. I am not in any way trying to sound snotty about it at all, but to me it's far superior in their methods. It is most certainly not for everyone or what everyone is looking for, I just know I will be very sad the day we can no longer afford this education for our kids. There are grade levels in the sense that they comply with the state requirements, and a child is either advanced to the next state equivalent grade level at the end of the year or not. In the same classroom a child could be on page 34 of a math book, and another could be on page 41. Even at the Primary level Colby is in, children do work based on ability, not all having to learn or work on the same things based solely on age. Kids are not allowed to just wander around as I've heard some people say happens, they aren't allowed to do handstands in the middle of the room just because they want to....there is a lot more freedom than in a traditional classroom, but not to the point of being disorganized and unruly. If a lesson needs to be done, however the child needs to situate themselves to complete the lesson is okay, whether it's sitting in a seat, sitting on the floor, etc...as long as they aren't impeding other students from their work, they are allowed to learn. I've also heard that Montessori kids are all over the place, no concentration, basically the classic ADHD diagnosis. I've not personally seen this, and realistically, I think when people make that judgement, they forgot that kid from a traditional school they just saw 5 minutes before being an equal turd. Community is a big aspect, helping out your fellow classmates as well as at home and in society. One of they things they are taught is that just because it's the right thing to do, help your fellow man. This is really the model I personally think all education should be based off of, I again think the video was correct that the way education is now just doesn't work for the way society has headed. A college degree doesn't guarantee anything, regardless of where the primary education started.
I don't know what the answer is at all, overhauling the entire education system? Overhauling anything where our government is concerned would take years and years of bureaucratic red tape, and I can't see things changing even in our children's lifetimes if the overhaul started tomorrow. I know my viewpoints come as a parent and not as a teacher who has lived the life in the classroom year after year. But what I do see during my visits to Colby's school in the various classrooms is that teaching outside of the box DOES work. There is apparent issues when Montessori taught children then go to a traditional school, as pretty much little to no Montessori principles are applied. This is something I figure I will worry about when the time comes.
I think a lot of what he says is spot on. I don't know that I'll have time to say everything I want to, William is on the loose ;), but wanted to comment briefly. I totally agree with Julie, that that is the wonderful thing about Montessori. I love their model. I love how the kids are taught that there are many ways to get the right answer. I love the freedom the kids are given and the responsibility that is taught as they are doing it.
I was so lucky that in college I was given the chance to observe and then teach in a public school that was as close to Montessori as it gets in the public school system. I taught in a multi-age classroom where kids were grouped based on their abilities, interests and what they needed. Since it was a public school they had a "grade" that they were in based on their age and still had to do the standardized testing mandated by the state, but teachers were given the flexibility to work with kids where they were and kids were given the opportunity to learn where they were.
When I graduated I went to another school in the next district that followed many of the same philosophies, but the kids were in grades and had a similarly wonderful experience. What I did with my kids was thematically based and my kids were taught the standards they were required to learn, but not through a text book and worksheets and lectures, but through hands on experience, cooperative learning and teaching one another. My job was to facilitate their learning, ask them questions, provide the resources for them to find the answers and to guide them back to where they needed to be when we got off track. It was a wonderful experience and I loved it. It was magical to see kids a-ha moments as they figured math concepts out on their own (with some guidance) as they sat on a beanbag chair, as they developed a hypothesis, took it through the scientific method and came out with an answer to their own question at the end, as they experienced what it would feel like to work on an assembly line in a factory and then journaled about it and especially when they would sit down with their portfolio and explain to their parents or someone visiting our classroom all the things they had learned.
These kids were responsible for their own learning, for their own education and for being prepared for what their education held in store for them. That is what education should be.
Oh, and on an aside, in my three years working in that school I didn't have a single child who was labeled ADHD or on any kind of medication for it. The way the school worked is how kids learn, so there was not reason to medicate. I do remember there was one one year in the classroom next door (there were 6 teachers in each grade too, so it wasn't a small school), but it wasn't an issue and this child flourished with the rest of them.
After leaving that school I moved back "home" and taught at a traditional school. I tried to do what I knew was right by these kids, but the system wasn't set up for it, there was no support for my ideas and I became frustrated. Needless to say, I only lasted 2 more years teaching.
There are teachers out there that are learning to teach this way, there are changes that can be made, and right now it is happening in small isolated pockets. I am still in contact with some of my students from my Orlando school and they are 19-22 years old now. Some have graduated from college, some are attending now, some went to trade school or nothing after high school, but what they all have in common is a strong sense of self and great problem solving and decision making strategies.
For the changing world I think that's what we have to give our kids to be successful, that's what the future models of education need.
Sorry this is long and rambling, I'll try to come back later and fix it, but William's patience is gone, I have to go play some choo choos