Montessori is the best form of education. There. I said it. But please don’t string me up just yet; there’s some Thomistic “yes and no” in here…
The more I learn about the Montessori method, the more I find myself believing that it is the single best way to educate a child. This tendency disturbed me because I don’t want to be viewed as an ideologue, zealously promulgating an educational philosophy that will solve the ills of the world. Yet, I’m slowly realizing that this form of education can, to some extent, do just that. Not because it is better than anything else out there, but because it IS everything else out there. Still with me?
See, the truth is, when we break down other mainstream educational methods to their foundational principles, we find that all of them are part of the Montessori Method’s own foundation. So Montessori isn’t better because it is different, it is better because it incorporates a variety of methods and thereby covers every aspect of a child’s natural approach to learning.
Classical education works because it is based on the developmental stages of the child. Traditional education works because it involves the passing of knowledge from the older generation to the younger. Unschooling works because it allows the child freedom to explore what truly interests them. Unit studies work because they show the connections between the branches of knowledge.
But not all children thrive under the regimented implementation of the Classical philosophy. Not all children learn by listening to someone else speak. Not all children are inspired to learn without any direction. Not all children learn well simply by reading or being read to. Not all children will pull the details from an overview.
Montessori includes the foundations of these educational philosophies, and much of their practical implementation and thereby reaches EVERY child. No modifications to the curriculum; no wondering what learning style your child has; no changing curriculum every few years, or using different curriculums for different subjects and different children. By using Montessori fully, you meet every need of every child in every subject every year.
And the amazing thing? Montessori didn’t intend any of this. She never sat down and said "Let's take this from Classical and this from the local schoolhouse." She had no preconceived notions about education. She simply sat and watched the children and learned from them how they learn best. The difference between her observations and those of the founders of other methods? She watched longer and more intently...and came away with the whole picture.
So do I look down on families who choose other methods for their children? Nope. The only type of education I look down on, regardless of the method being used, is one in which the child is forced to conform to the curriculum rather than the curriculum bending to meet the needs of the child. Montessori simply makes it easier to avoid this error by basing the method on the full scope of those needs in the first place.