Choosing the Montessori education method came out of hours of research and study, comparing various philosophies, research, and the time-worn private vs. public vs. home school arguments. The point of this series is to share that research, and why it lead us to choosing Montessori home education out of the mix.
Before we dive in too far, let’s get some things discuss what our priorities are for our children’s education. And please bear in mind that we don’t hate any particular type of schooling, or think other people are evil who have different educational goals.
- It must develop critical thinking skills, balancing the emphasis on reading, math, and science. We feel (and research indicates) that U.S schools (and homeschools!) are generally too focused on sports/activities/reading/history while leaving science and math proficiency and excellence in the dust. We want our children to be able to live and work anywhere in the world, with skills that enable them to provide for themselves/their families. And we want them to struggle as little as possible with math and science, to not be afraid of it, and to not hate it.
- It must be of such quality as to allow them to perform on-par with students in countries who rate in the top ten in the world, as measured by the PISA test. This automatically eliminates most public and private schools in the U.S., considering our rankings as of 2012. New rankings are being released in December of this year, but unless Common Core has made some good headway, we aren’t expecting there to be much of a change. We plan to live abroad for most of our lives, so this also would rule out schools in many foreign countries. Depending on the country, we may not have a choice, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Note that Montessori schools exist worldwide. It is not just a U.S. system.
- It must allow for the existence of God to be taught. So this again rules out most public and private schools. We want them to see and understand the role God and Christianity have played across history, and how the various disciplines evidence God’s existence. We want our children to be able to use critical thinking to show God exists and that the Bible is truth. We do not want them to simply memorize what we, their parents, believe, only to toss it away later. They need to choose to believe for themselves, and that they need to be able to defend what they believe, clearly, respectfully, and thoughtfully. Additionally, we don’t want them to draw a line between education systems, i.e. “Christian” math vs. secular math, “Christian” biology vs. secular/evolutionary biology, but rather, between truth and falsehood.
- We don’t believe one type of schooling is superior to all others. We do not believe that homeschooling is, in and of itself, better than the other types. Being homeschooled does not mean you turn out smarter, in general. (See also, this website.) But for our present circumstances, we believe it will be best allow us to reach the goals for our children’s educations.
- We want a school that is calm, orderly, peaceful, beautiful, and full of independent thought. Education needs to teach our children to be independent thinkers and actors. Our basic parenting philosophy is that children need to be raised in a way that acknowledges they are smarter and more capable than we think, and that they need to grow gradually independent of us.
Next week, I will discuss how the Montessori method addresses each of these areas, and why that appealed to us.
- We recommend reading The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley for a in-depth look at various education systems in several of the top-scoring countries on PISA, and the U.S. Education system. Find it here.
- Visit the Coalition For Responsible Homeschooling for a look at some of the issues that arise with homeschooling. It isn’t always great, but it can be.