Purpose of This Blog

Devoted to guiding educators towards a centered and intentional Montessori practice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Process vs. Product: The Pursuit of Happiness and the Paper Trail



One of the many beauties of a Montessori education is the time afforded the children to truly 'know'. Rushing from one topic to the next is patently avoided. As such, time for profound understanding is fostered. Children stay with a work because they can feel its significance. They form an intimate connection, and that relationship resonates within them. This relationship is ‘love’.

This way of knowing comes from being genuinely part of what you are attempting to understand. Through slowing down and learning to take their time, looking at the familiar from different perspectives, the children deeply explore the questions and concepts before them.

One of the frustrations that sometimes surfaces for parents of Montessori students is the lack of paper products that come home – in traditional school settings often seen as evidence of learning and growth happening during the school day. Indeed, without such documentation, trusting that the school and classroom teachers are doing best by the children can feel like a great act of faith.

Becoming focused on the completed products generated during the school day, however, may not be the best measure of a child’s success. If we instead examine the conversations about a subject of interest, plans made and projects initiated, material explored - sensorially rooting a major curricular concept, maps built, timelines made, posters developed, stories written, etc. Each of these examples highlights the tenor of the work environment in a Montessori classroom.

The challenge for teachers and parents alike is to reach farther and to look deeper. It is not enough to concern ourselves with dittos and worksheets, contracts and quantities of works accomplished. We all chose to be part of this school for what rests at its core: facilitating the fundamental unfurling of a child’s self.

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