My Years of Montessori – Part 1

I had just gotten to the school where I have been working for three and a half years now – a lovely little holistic school, sort of Montessorish, but then again, not. We have three groups of kids spanning the 1st through 8th Grades –- 42 in all. Anyway, I was standing in the kitchen making my morning Müsli, as I always do, greeting the kids as they arrived at the old farmhouse-turned-schoolhouse, and talking through the day’’s lessons with my co-teacher –- let’’s call him “Mark”. We teach the class “World Studies” together- – or in Montessori-speak -“ Cosmic Education”. (What this basically means is all the classic school subjects other than German, Math and English lumped together.) Mark is there because he knows a lot about all these subjects. I am there to supply structure, my didactic experience, and to make the class bilingual. Our team-teaching has been a growing experience and an education in itself – but that is a subject for a later date.

So I had just eaten my first spoonful of Müsli when my three 4th Grade girls (and yes, there are only three) appeared in the doorway of the kitchen. They were excited and giggling and whispering among themselves. They were shifting around in an attempt to hide behind one another. “Come on – ask!” – “No you ask!” – “No, you do it!”

I say ““Could it be that you three want to ask us something?”” More whispering and giggling, and then one of them (let’’s call her Emma) finally says to her friends, ““Okay, I’ll do it.”” She turns to me and my colleague, squares her shoulders, and says “”We . . .” – ”  and then she loses her courage momentarily. Her two friends start to giggle again and she turns and says to them, ““You guys ask!”” – They reply, “”No, you can do it – – just do it!””

““Okay”” says Emma. She turns to us and takes a deep breath.

““We just want to ask a question . . . . What is the difference . . . between . . . gas and diesel?””

Mark and I do our best not to laugh – or even smile. “”Mark”,” I say, ““I think that is a question for you.””

Those four saunter off to their classroom so that he can teach them about oil refining. I eat another spoonful of Müsli and think “”God I love this place!””

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