By: Lauren Melchior (2-9-12)
It was a relatively normal day. The to-do list kind of read like this: do the laundry, give our monster dog a bath (a considerable task) and clean the house. I was about halfway through giving my eighty pound goldendoodle a bath when I received a phone call that would change the way I looked at education. The call was from Judy saying she had read my resume and would like to speak to me in person. Of course I was ecstatic so I agreed to come to Oak Haven that same day.
That night was kind of a battle for me. As I toured the school I thought to myself, “This can’t work as well as it seems to work, I mean I barely know anything about this philosophy of education after all.” Then I went home and read about students accomplishing crazy tasks beyond the scope of what I had ever seen as an elementary school teacher in the traditional schools. The rest of that night for me a conversation played out in my head that was kind of like a dialogue between Socrates and Plato. No, that conversation will not rock the world like many of Plato’s dialogues nor will it inspire generations of people; however, it was enough to inspire me. The day I stepped foot into a Montessori classroom something about the way I viewed a classroom changed.
When I received my degree I couldn’t help but think I had a pretty good grasp of this whole teaching thing. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I had spent a considerable amount of money and a substantial amount of time pouring my heart and soul into my education. That’s why walking into a Montessori classroom for the first time was such an odd feeling. I don’t mean to sound too philosophical but it was both enlightening and a slap in the face at the same time. The experience I would most compare it to would be getting a wonderful frozen slushy or something on a scorching day and drinking it in about a minute. Yes, the slushy is great and it certainly hits the spot, but the brain freeze afterwards is enough to make you swear off the fantastic cold creations, until the next time you want a slushy. To me a Montessori classroom is that wonderfully satisfying cold creation, and the brain freeze is realizing that not only did I barely even scratch the surface of Montessori in college, it was pretty much written off as impossible to effectively achieve on a massive level.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I consider myself lucky. Yes, I work with wonderful people who are amazingly talented at what they do. Yes, I get to deal with a broad spectrum of problems at work that makes me smile, laugh and sometimes cry on a day to day basis. And yes, I am privileged enough to help teach some of the most fun, enjoyable and inspiring children day in and day out. But these things are not why I am lucky. I am lucky because Montessori found me and opened my eyes to a whole new spectrum of education. The rest of that stuff is a byproduct of the Montessori style, because Montessori requires unique, determined, and gifted administration and faculty to be done correctly. Montessori everyday by its nature presents its followers with a plethora of problems that are challenging and rewarding. And perhaps most importantly Montessori teaches your children and my friends, who are already great people, how to achieve things that people outside of Montessori will routinely be shocked by. I will not be shocked though; no, I was lucky to have received that phone call from Miss Judy.
“Education should no longer be mostly imparting knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentials.” – Dr. Maria Montessori