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Taking Montessori To Madison

Submitted by Joe Beckman

About a year ago, my wife and I decided to send our daughter, Sophia, to a traditional Montessori school near our house.  Before my daughter was born I knew nothing of the Montessori methods, and now I find myself talking to everyone I can about how I only wish I experienced this when I was growing up.

Maria Montessori’s learning philosophies are rooted in concepts such as justice, civility, empathy, fairness, dialogue, innovation, creativity, teamwork, and most importantly, community. Students understand that their actions directly impact others and the community around them. Conflicts, even the most heated, are dealt with respect. And although each student knows they will always be listened to, it does not mean that they get what they want. No matter how loud they yell.

It’s an environment that requires self-discipline, patience, listening, and compromise. Considering everything going down in Wisconsin right now, I can’t help but wonder how some of these Montessori philosophies could benefit both the politicians and the people.

In case you’re unfamiliar, state workers from across the country are focusing on Madison, WI where newly elected Gov. Scott Walker is looking to implement a bill that would force most state workers to pay higher health care costs, contribute more to their pensions, and to eliminate their ability to collectively bargain.

To say it’s a heated issue would be an understatement. People feel strongly on both sides of the aisle, and over 70,000 people came to the capitol of Wisconsin to make their opinions known.

Unfortunately I hear a lot of yelling, but very little listening. I hear a lot of complaining, but no problem solving. I hear a lot of mandating, but no compromising. Is this really the best way to lead? Is this the example that we are setting for our youth, the future leaders of our society?

I mean we teach are kids not only the importance of having an opinion, but also to take the opinions of others into account as well. We teach are kids to work out their problems civilly, instead of screaming and yelling (or running and hiding). And we teach are kids that they’re not always going to get what they want, to be accountable when they are wrong, and to work together to find solutions to problems. Why can we not practice what we preach?

If Maria Montessori was still alive, she would still be able to do amazing things with our kids…unfortunately it’s the adults that could really use the message.

For a real, digestible, and down to earth argument in favor of Montessori schools read Montessori Madness by Trevor Eissler.

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