Why Hand In Hand?
November 14, 2015
Why choose Hand In Hand over another educational model?
There so many wonderful educational options in our Twin City area and around our country. It causes one to pause and consider the unique advantages of Christian Montessori and a Constructivist Approach.
John Dewey, said to be the father of American, progressive, traditional education, emphasized conformity within group settings, expressing one’s feelings without suppression, and fantasy play. These thoughts were juxtaposed to Montessori’s beliefs of challenging cognitive learning, reality-oriented practical life, and teacher as guide for the individual learner. Not a one-size-fits-all-classroom but rather each child receiving a tutorial-type advantage. She wrote in A Pedagogical Anthropology, “In order to educate, it is essential to know those who are to be educated.”
Classical Education, modeled after the rigorous studies of the middle and renaissance eras, emphasizes knowledge-based, memorization, written and oral work. Montessori is child-centered on the other hand and inspires a love of learning. Although knowledge, memorization of facts, ideas and concepts are important and emphasized, they are secondary to the needs of the child. Children are motivated by innate interest and allowed to have both choice and voice in the day-to-day learning experience.
Charlotte Mason is another popular and worthwhile way to learn. Living books instead of textbooks play the main role and in-depth nature studies are paramount to the Mason gentle art of learning. There are similarities between the Mason and Montessori methods. However, the precise, hands-on learning materials and the carefully prepared environment are a few ways that Montessori differs from Mason.
Many don’t know that Montessori education is the largest international pedagogy in the world. It is true! Last February, Governor Mark Dayton, along with many others across the country, proclaimed a Montessori Awareness Week. Our own Hand In Hand classrooms had a special way of looking at the life of Maria Montessori and her contribution to education. 4,000 Montessori schools in the USA celebrated in their own unique ways as well. http://www.montessori.edu/FAQ.html is a wonderful website with questions, answers and facts regarding Montessori education worldwide. . It is exciting to be a part of an international movement and to be unique in our place in the world.
Elizabeth Hainstock, a Montessori proponent, and I agree – “to do the best by our children, we must analyze and study them all, and not be afraid to be eclectic!” We often refer to Hand In Hand as “best practice,” meaning, we take the best of Montessori but incorporate traditional, Classical, and Charlotte Mason methods as well. We also seek to create a culture that is God-honoring and family-focused. We put a great deal of effort into our Food Program, Family Events and Field Experiences (like the Farm Land School) to provide “only the best for the smallest.”
“Montessori is a timeless method, with much to offer in the areas of education, child development, and human understanding,” says Hainstock in her book Essential Montessori. I have enjoyed for developing the practice the Montessori Method, a constructivist approach, for many children at Hand In Hand, including my own three children, and I am reaping the benefits of those practices as my children mature into young adults.
Madeline, my middle child, with hair like golden thread, often articulates the advantages she experienced being raised in both a Christian Montessori school and home setting. It is satisfying to hear her express her gratitude for the methodology, but more than it, I enjoy watching her life unfold as one who loves Jesus and others, enjoys learning, and leads well. She was captured on film last year expressing some of the reasons she favors Montessori. Madeline is one of the greatest answers to the question “why Hand In Hand?”