[Olpc-open] [IAEP] Montessori madness...
sverma at sfsu.edu
Mon Oct 12 12:08:39 EDT 2009
On Mon, Oct 12, 2009 at 7:54 AM, Gerald Ardito <gerald.ardito at gmail.com> wrote:
> I wanted to add something to this conversation.
> I am a public middle school science teacher, and, as some of you know, the
> technology facilitator in my building working with our 5th grade students
> and teachers with a set of 150 XOs.
> I am sympathetic to the thread of this conversation about Montessori
> schools. "Small classes and passionate teachers," somebody said. I think
> that this does a disservice to the passionate teachers in all kinds of
> settings (and I work with very passionate teachers). I spend much of my
> non-teaching time with teachers who are very interested in transforming
> education. They have real demands (state and federal assessments, for
> example) along with student needs, parent expectations and demands, etc. But
> this does not make them less patient.
> I believe that transformation takes place in situ. It does not wait for (or
> need) an ideal situation.
> My point is that I think that Sugar with and without the XOs has an enormous
> possibility of empowering children AND their teachers to do great things.
This I agree with. I think Sugar itself provides transport to children
and teachers, while the XO acts as a Pinzgauer/Unimog in tough
environs (I have an unhealthy desire for machines). It has to be
supporting of the current method, while acting to facilitate the
change. Most public school environments (including public higher ed)
doesn't have the leeway to switch methods overnight.
In my opinion, Montessori is an example of what can be done outside of
the usual model of schools, but is subject to the constraints of size
and manageability. A school (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Bhagmalpur)
that I work with in India has 1100+ kids in 8 grades, managed by
teachers who are a few shades away from shepherds, with little formal
training. ...they naturally gravitate to bamboo canes (interestingly,
so did my Catholic school teachers/nuns, but that's another post).
I wouldn't dream of "teaching" them the Montessori method in its
entirety, but just a few hours with two XOs revealed a spark in their
eyes, which I take to be hope for something better than whipping
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