Continuing with my previous post on educational philosophies, I have to admit that one of the few educational paradigms that has made sense to me is that of Maria Montessori. Her philosophy is truly wonderful because it considers all aspects of a child's development. She didn't look simply at what they were learning (i.e. intellectual development) but how the emotional development, physical development and intellectual development were intertwined.
If you look at public education in it's current form, it's hard to see much of her philosophy. Indeed, I believe that this is part of the reason public education fails so many of its students. Sadly, except for Montessori schools which are officially affiliated with Association Montessori Internationale, there is no guarantee that a "Montessori School" has anything beyond the materials developed for the Montessori Method. The whole philosophy behind the materials can sometimes be lost.
My understanding of some of Montessori's main points are as follows:
1 - A teacher cannot rush learning.
2 - Even when a child has learned, a teacher cannot force a child to demonstrate learning when they do not have adequate emotional and physical development. Likewise, lack of development in these areas can hinder learning.
3 - Learning is most quickly achieved when multiple senses are involved. (I personally believe this is a way around many learning disabilities or difficulties.)
4 - Knowledge is most readily absorbed when it can be experienced.
5 - You cannot control a child. A child must learn to control him or herself. The best way to help a child to control his or her behavior is by manipulation of the environment.
6 - Most knowledge that one needs to graduate from high school can be learned by ages 12-14. Around this age, education should shift it's focus from intellectual development to the child's social development. A child should have preparation for adulthood, and self-development is a key aspect of that preparation.
Admittedly, this is simply my interpretation of her method and philosophies. It is likely that I have misunderstood on one or more points. It seems, however, that much modern education flies in the face of her knowledge and education, much to the detriment of the children.