I had a prospective parent ask me, very nicely, if it were true that my program is not a “real” Montessori program. Just curious.
My first reaction: “Sigh.” There is the Montessori version of the mommy wars, and this is how it is expressed. “Oh, that program is not a real Montessori program.” Is this an extension of “Mean Girls”, since so many of us Montessorians are women?
Well, I am a real as it gets, girls.
This is sometimes skirted around in online Montessori forums, trying not to “go there”: “Well, if you had that training, you aren’t really a Montessori teacher; just sayin’. No offense.”
Short answer, I am a real, real Montessori teacher, and my school is a real Montessori school. Training and internship through the American Montessori Society. 20 years in. Those of us who go to the trouble to get Montessori training after getting our degree are pretty passionate, or kinda nuts, depending on how you look at it, so, I say, hat’s off to those of us who have done it, and let’s leave the “Montessori wars” on the playground, please.
If you want to read on, you can.
Montessori came to the US in 1918, and had a very successful exhibit at the World’s Fair that year, called the Glass Classroom (a classroom set up so that adults could walk around and look in, like a store display; very cool!)
Everyone thought she was wonderful, and, in our American, can-do way, people started setting up “Montessori schools” all over, based on hearing one lecture or so.
Montessori was appalled, and did not back any of these American schools. All training was then in Europe. A few folks went to Europe for training and came back.
In the 60s, a few intrepid American women got training in Europe, and came back, attempting to get an approved Montessori society in America from Montessori’s son. After a lot of haggling, they just went ahead and made the American Montessori Society, which has over 4000 member schools, and has trained hundreds of thousands of teachers through AMS certification programs. Teacher education programs are handled through colleges and universities, and in free-standing programs, which are usually tied to a Montessori school. AMS teacher training is 1 academic year and a 1 year internship with a Montessori school, beyond a bachelor’s degree. I did my training with the Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina, in 1995. http://www.teachmontessori.org/ Before that, my teacher trainer was trained in Italy. My internship was in 1994-5 at Mountain Pathways School, under Cheryl Smith, who trained at Xavier in Cincinnati.
Needless to say, there is still a disconnect between the Association Montessori International (AMI) and AMS, although most of us are trying to work together for the good of the children. (For more information on “what makes a Montessori school”, try this: http://amshq.org/Montessori-Education/Introduction-to-Montessori?gclid=CjwKEAiAy7SzBRD_lv7quOnr6XUSJAAOLkW6eUpH7h3ug64y9Q5s9HtwsyGQaidG0Ih-2So12QavwRoCD5Tw_wcB)
I am sure this is more than anyone wanted to know! 🙂 And this is some more. The international training often, as I understand, is set up to have classes in the morning, and your internship in the afternoon, so that you can immediately apply what you have learned. That would have been lovely! But I had 2 children and three jobs in my training year, so spending a year of weekends worked best for me. My teacher trainers were some of the most insightful and committed people I have ever met, as are all of the Montessorians I have met, as well, even the crazy ones.
P.S. The international training limits(for the most part) materials in the classroom to those that were designed in Montessori’s lifetime. AMS allows the teachers to choose which materials may foster concentration and interest for the children, in addition to the traditional math, language and sensorial materials, and the practical life activities. There are very few AMI training programs in the US, and several AMS programs, or at least one, in each state. AMI schools require a very high student /teacher ratio, which are not allowed in most states, under licensing. Until preschool teachers in the US make more than any other service workers, it will be hard to justify having a year of training after your undergrad degree, with no guarantee of more pay. (Kind of like what is happening with teachers in North Carolina who get no additional pay for a Master’s.)
P.P.S. If you wonder about a program, go and visit. Go often (ask first). Ask a lot of questions. If they talk your ear off, they are passionate. See if you like what they do and say. See if you think your child would do well there. Ask more questions. Follow your gut and your mind.