Montessori education a good alternative

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2006

To make extra cash in college, I worked at a Montessori school in Homewood. Though I spent most of my time as an after-school teacher playing freeze dance, pushing children on a swing and reading stories, I definitely noticed something different about the school and the students.

For one, and as I was told in my interview at Bruno Montessori, these schools tend to draw a very multi-ethic and multicultural group of students. In my after school class there were children of Chinese, Korean, Muslim and African-American descent, as well as Caucasian children. I was thrilled to see how these preschoolers interacted with each other regardless of color, race and religion. I noticed the very same attitude on my tour at Bruno Montessori.

Another very unique part to Montessori schools is the emphasis on nature and the environment. As a child, I would have loved the opportunity to study real-live creatures in the classroom as a part of everyday learning. While at Bruno Montessori, I met three middle school girls filling out their Pet Care Sheets on a skink. When I asked what exactly a skink was, they all rattled off how it was a reptile, named for it&8217;s spotted body and other facts. I ran into them later while they were studying a gerbil.

Another teacher at Bruno Montessori told me a story about the true concern for nature instilled in the children, even as preschoolers. When it was time her class, a group of students told her they couldn&8217;t come to class until they buried a dead bird they had just discovered. The teacher&8217;s response? &8220;Sure, go ahead!&8221; she told them.

I truly admire the attention Montessori schools give to individual students, the environment and the various cultures and ethnicities around the world. Just working at and touring the two different schools has inspired me to be, at the same time, more in tune when communicating with those closest to me, and knowledgeable and inquisitive about the world around me.