By Ms. Foy
Montessori philosophy maintains that testing children for lessons given is not an accurate way of knowing how much or how well the child has assimilated ideas. In Montessori schools we strive to instill a love of learning, and the ability to utilize lessons learned in one area to another area of learning. A child who has been educated to gain knowledge and use this knowledge in other areas of life, is a better educated child than another who only learns to get good grades for a test. This type of learning is very superficial and has no depth. Dr. Montessori believed that we should sow the seeds of knowledge, and not pull out the seeds sown to see how well it is doing! If this is our belief, why do we do the standardized test every year? The testing is not mandated for private schools, however we still do it, and I would like to offer an explanation, and some help for parents while the child is getting ready for the test.
The child in a Montessori school will eventually go to public school, and have to do these tests. To get the child ready for this reality we present the test in a relaxed way with no pressure. Studying to the test is not education, so we do not give too much time in the school year for this type of preparation. Montessori education has the same curriculum covered as public school though the presentation is different. The testing is a good way for the teacher to judge herself rather than the child. The result shows the teacher whether she has imparted the knowledge, and gives her an opportunity to make amendments if necessary. There is no pressure on the child to get good grades. Good grades happen spontaneously, as in our classrooms the child has the freedom to learn, not the pressure to learn! Is it not true, that when you enjoy what you do, you do a better job than if you do not enjoy what you do? This is what happens in a Montessori school, we instill a love of learning, and we do not limit the child’s knowledge by age. The result is a happy child who performs well spontaneously. I request parents to have the same approach to learning in the weeks leading up to the test. Please do not pressure the child. Let us treat the test as just one learning experience, among all the other learning experiences the child has during the school year. Let us not focus on the grades, let us focus on and enjoy the test period as one of the many learning tools the child is exposed to throughout the school year.