Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kids and the real world

Montessori Mom left a comment after my post about "Don't you want to hang out with your friends?" that inspired me to write.

She talked about, in Montessori, how the adolescent is seen as wanting to find a place in society. That is very true. Our current model of schools does NOT allow for that. The society kids live in and socialize in is not a reflection of the society outside of school.

It would be WONDERFUL if there were more schools that approached the Erdkinder idea. Slowly things are changing here--Registered Apprenticeships for senior high students (wish they could come up with something for the junior high kids who are REALLY seeking out a connection with society), there's an all boys boarding school in a nearby town/city where they don't have an Erdkinder environment, yet the boys do all kinds of outdoor activities, planning, they have to be a part of a work crew for the upkeep of the school... It's much more realistic and in-tune with an adolescent's needs than (only) sitting in a desk half the day.

The oldset I homeschool (not mine) is almost 16. Because of homeschooling, she has had the time to work out a bit of her place in society. She participates in competitive diving as well as has a paid job coaching gymnastics and diving. She's dealing with money, and 'customers' and real-life things, you know? And she definitely does hang out with friends, just not in-between classes or at lunch. (Just like adults in the real world.) If she didn't have these outlets, she'd probably be just another student going through the motions of school, either oblivious to how things are different in the real world or waiting for it to all be done with so she could get to the real world. She, too, would think that high school life is about friends, because that's often where the only true enjoyment comes in. (That's so sad, isn't it??? I think of all kinds of things I've read about high school and why kids shouldn't homeschool but should go to high school and it's got nothing to do with the education at all; it's all about the 'fun' that goes on. Which, I have to wonder, is maybe just some makeup to hide the "non-fun" of the available education?)

There is just so much talk about homeschooling doesn't prepare children for the real world, and how public school supposedly does, yet when you analyze it, public schools are far removed from the real world. The Montessori environment, while not set up the way other places might be, functions so much more like the real world--various ages interacting together, chances to work on projects, the children decide just how long they will work on something instead of changing subjects every hour or so... And freedom. Adults have a lot of freedom they take for granted, which is perhaps why so many don't see the lack of freedom that kids in a typical public school have. Adults get to make a ton of decisions--what do public school kids do for the most part? Sit, listen, discuss only when allowed or told to discuss, and work. Work they didn't choose in the first place necessarily.

Ah, enough of this for now.


Montessori Mom said...

I enjoyed reading your reflections here! Money is definitely a huge piece that is left out of most of education - and one that Montessori wrote about extensively. It's such a shame that children's experiences with such important issues (like budgeting, having a real job, etc) are left almost completely to chance.

Your comment about preparation for the real world also reminded me of how painfully difficult I found it to manage and evaluate my own work in a job with a lot of freedom after years of rigid schedules and grading procedures. This seems to be yet another area where Montessori proves helpful to the child making a transition into/finding a place within adult society.

Have there been any studies done on Montessori students and their transitions into adult life?

Thanks for your posts - I'm enjoying them! Keep them coming!

Daisy said...

I think it's possible that there have been studies done, but I don't know of any personally. I know I've read a number of anecdotes on the Montessori-L, always positive. You can find out more information here .