First, the good: learning is naturally beautiful. Whenever I step into one of our Montessori classrooms, I invariably encounter a room full of children engrossed in thinking and doing. Each child is deep in concentration– quiet, focused and industrious. Some are working on language and literacy skills. Others are working on math skills or practical life skills. Each child is active and mentally engaged.
How can a room of 13 or 20 children be so quietly focused? The Montessori approach appeals directly to their natural desire to learn, to move, to create and construct. Montessori teachers understand that children learn through their senses. The more they can touch, feel, move, listen, see and smell, the more their brains grow.
Being busy is far more interesting that being inactive.
Now the bad: I had one of those “remember how lucky you are” moments on class picture day. Unlike being in their engaging classrooms, 82 Evergreen students waited and waited in our gymnasium for the photographer to set up the group picture. It didn’t work. Children, deprived of the chance to learn and do, quickly became inpatient and fidgety. They moved. They wiggled. They tested the photographer’s patience. And mine. I will never become a school photographer. So help me God.
Waiting is part of life, and I want our students to be good at it. But not at the expense of their cognitive growth. The less we make our children wait idly the better. This is a core Evergreen School and Montessori value. Why do so many traditional schools insist on talking at children and not let them learn at their own pace?