Growing up, I never really knew what a Montessori School was, I still barely know – aside from a few incredibly short conversations and brief reading of “Montessori education” from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The first time I was introduced to the idea (and able to semi-comprehend the concept), I thought it was ridiculous. It sounded like chaos. How could someone learn in a mixed-aged classroom, with little direction, by working with materials (rather than direct instruction)? Yet now, at the age of 23, as a graduate student, with what seems like endless competing responsibilities, I think I get it.
According to the American Montessori Society, students work within parameters set by their teachers and actively decide what their focus of learning will be. So, you know those fleeting moments of motivation you experience? In Montessori schools, they’re not fleeting, they’re acted upon.
I don’t recall where the inspiration came from, but adopting this mindset in life has been incredibly beneficial. I am a person who appreciates efficiency and action above most other things, but I believe this “Montessori” mindset is key to doing things well.
The last time my sister and I were home together, we decided to clean the house. Instead of dividing things up, or doing the crappiest jobs first, I said, “Do whatever your heart feels like doing!” And as crazy as that sounds (because why the heck would your heart feel like cleaning anything), the change in attitude that results from shifting your source of motivation (external reasoning to internal drive), is motivation in and of itself.
As a society, our priorities and preset agendas guide our lives. We think that sticking to the schedule will keep us on task and increase our efficiency, but I disagree. I recognize that meetings are meetings and class times are set, but being able to guide our actions by doing what we feel drawn to, is incredibly rewarding.
Think about the times when you’re like, “I could really go for a run right now!” or maybe that never happens… instead you think, “I would really love to bake a cake right now!” When your desire to do whatever that is, aligns with the opportunity to actually do that thing, how beautiful is that. You feel like you’re on top of the world. Like, “I’ve never cleaned my room so fast in my entire life!”
I think this could happen more… if only we had the courage to deviate from the agenda – fully trusting that we would still get everything done.
I realize this is a fine line, but so is Montessori education. Students can choose what they want to engage in from a prescribed range of options. That’s life. We have a prescribed list of responsibilities and they all have to get done.
Most of the time, our priorities guide our decisions. We let agendas determine our day-to-day actions.
I wonder what would happen if we adopted the Montessori method?
Guided by the human spirit.