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I mentioned last week I am reading a book. Truth is, I am slowly crawling through it in itty bitty sessions. Not because it is a bad book, or even because it is written in turn of the century American, but because of a personal failing of mine.

Simply put, when I am faced with something new and exciting, it’s like all the thoughts I am ever going to have on the subject all run at each other at the same time shouting “HEYELL YEAH!!!” before making the sign o’ the horns, chest bumping, aaaand maybe crushing a few beers cans on their heads to seal the deal. The only thing I can do to cope with this mental mosh pit is to take a step back and just .... exist ... for a while until those thoughts settle down.

A Montessori Mother is so exciting and inspiring, that after about 10 minutes I have to close it before I start making a noise that only dogs can hear.

This is the first book I have read that addresses Montessori education from the perspective or a parent. It is full of observations, ideas, enthusiasm about how children learn, and more importantly why.

It speaks to me, and it challenges me.

Which is not the experience I expected from this book.

What I need for my bus ride into work is a nice simple book that doesn't make me weep snot bubbles in public, or miss my stop, or do c-RAzy laughing that scares the person sitting next to me.

What I don’t need is an invitation to naval gaze on the subject of knowledge until I look like a lobotomy patient with just the teensiest bit of drool escaping down my chin.

I started from a fairly simple viewpoint when I picked up this book: I want my children to have a good relationship with learning. I want my children to be like me. I am a collector: Not of things, but of knowledge.

Thinking gives me a buzz, investigating gives me a buzz, learning gives me a buzz.

School? This did not give me a buzz.

Like young Logan, I see school as a sanitised facsimile of life, ordered, broken down, measured, designed to train children to become successful adults.

If your view of success is to buy into the average western consumer lifestyle.

It all feels so sterile, so lacking in passion.

For me knowledge has never been a means to an end, but a journey that I savour. My brain is full of what I apologetically call Random Shit with absolutely no practical application. I see similar traits developing in my children.

Alfie latches onto a subject and just wants to learn the shit out of it.

Esme, is an investigator.

Last night, for instance, she spent the entire time I was unloading and reloading the dishwasher opening and closing a cupboard door that has developed an especially musical squeak. I was torn between the desire to go in search of earplugs, and gratitude that she wasn't helping me unload the dishwasher, but somewhere past that, I was listening to her testing the differences between slow closes, fast closes, jiggling and every other tortured wail she could coax from that door.

There is no practical application for that knowledge, outside of a foley stage, but it was her process that intrigued me, and her curiosity that excited me.

The reality of life is that at least some of the knowledge you have needs to hold value to someone else, if only so that you have the choice to opt into the modern world. You could know everything there is to know about 15th century Bavarian squeezeboxes, but I doubt it will ever provide you with a living wage.

But is that something that education should address?

I know a shocking number of people who are earning a living doing jobs with absolutely no connection to their qualifications. I know people with no qualifications at all who are also providing for their families.

That says to me that education is failing even at doing the one useful thing it was supposed to be doing in training people to earn a living.

On the flip side, what it is also showing me is that without education, my children will probably be just fine.

And you know what sparked all of this? It was this page:

My answer to the question, after much naval gazing is yes, for my children, within my family, I do think it would be an improvement.


  1. I babysat 3 children who went to school with my brothers, these 3 later moved to a Montessori School and have turned out to be well rounded, well adjusted adults, and so are my brothers who didn't go to a Montessori School. You choose the schooling to fit your child's particular needs. I know of many people with Degrees who aren't in the job connected to their qualification subject but that's down to the jobmarket, and it's been like that for a very very long time.

    1. We very much lived that idea in my family. My baby sister and I went to a state primary school, my middle sister went to a private school because it was better suited to her needs. We've all turned out pretty well academically/ job wise, but I know what a painful journey it was for me. I'm not saying my children couldn't handle that same journey, but if I can give them a less painful alternative, of course I would want to choose that.

    2. Out of interest, did you notice any differences in the children you looked after depending on their educational background? How they played, etc?

  2. Of course you wouldn't want to subject them to the same pain you went through. I expect you have already thought, they are different from me, and may find it less painful, you could try it and if it's hurting them then rethink. I went to 3 different Middle schools. The first move was because the school had teachers leaving, left, right and centre. Ironically the school eventually closed and all the kids moved to the middle school I'd been moved to, they took an instant dislike to my 2 friends and I who had been moved earlier, because they felt we weren't the same as them anymore. We were stuck in limbo land. Didn't fit with our old school friends, didn't fit with the new school kids. The 2nd move was due to moving house, and I was only at the middle school for 1 year, but it was awful, hated it, bullied, beaten up, because I was seen as an outsider, only when I moved from there to go to Secondary school did the ones who went with me, accept me, because of the psychology of the situation, 'all stick together when put into a new situation'. The only good memories I have are of Primary and 6th Form College.
    Do you feel in any way that you missed out by not having Private education too? or 1 sister favourited over yourself?
    To answer your question, I trained at 2 different Primary schools in Reception classes, all the children played as I remember playing as a child - make believe, girls going around in groups, boys playing together. Nannying the 1 & 2 yr old, was a Nanny share, 2 families sharing me, the children just played together. Watching the children, who were moved from Primary to the Montessori school, play with my brothers, they just played the usual rough and tumble games, 4 boys together, you can imagine. I've observed over the years many different children play together, and met the parents, all different backgrounds, expectations of their children etc. Babysitting 2 American brothers who went to the same creche I volunteered at, their parents were filling them up with learning at every possible moment e.g. the minute their parents returned home, out came flash cards, and no tv, lots of outdoor play too. Interesting to see a different Nationality with their children.
    I think the 2 most important aspects to children regarding learning and developing are the parents & the teachers, and how they manage to relate to the children. I will always remember the fabulous History teacher we had at Secondary school, to help us understand a roman meal, she set an entire meal out in the H.E.rooms, she would also tell us silly personal stories to connect to us, we thought she was excellent and I learnt tons. Unfortunately she was sacked for not teaching us in the way the school wanted her to, she was replaced by a stern, stuffy, cold teacher, and I no longer enjoyed or remember much of what happened in History after that. The same could be said for Geography. The great teachers were booted, infavour of ones who stuck rigidly to the book! I was meant to do O level English Language at Secondary school, my English teacher retired, she was a fabulous elderly lady, her parting words to me were make sure you take your O level, her replacement disagreed, was more interested in showing us who was Boss, and I ended up having to take it at 6th Form College.
    Sorry if that was more than what you intended to read, but it's all education related. In a nutshell it boils down to one word Interest. How interested Parents are to teach their children, and how interested Teachers are to make sure children absorb lessons, getting down to their level and relating well.

    1. I had the same experience of teachers, it was the "renegade" ones that inspired me to learn.

      Really interesting that the children all played the same way, you would have expected the Monte children to be more independent for longer periods.

      I feel your pain. I went to a whole heap of schools as a child (we moved countries, I wasn't chucked out or anything) but my problem was with authority. Unfortunately you now have two parents who tilt at windmills and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree (to mix my metaphors) so the question is whether a traditional school setup is going to be the most effective way for our children to learn.

  3. I could see just working as a classroom assistant that if the child wasn't easy to teach, he immediately got overlooked. Teachers have so much on their plates they can only teach children that fit. I always wonder what happened to one particular boy who wasn't picking up reading at 3yrs old as well as his classmates, I felt sorry for him, and tried to help when the teacher wasn't looking. I was put in the bottom class at Secondary School simply because I'd only been at the last Middle School for a year so they didn't have an understanding of where I was educationally. By the time I left Secondary School I had worked my way up to 3rd from the top. The top 2 classes immediately got to do O levels and learnt German. I did manage to leave with O level Art (I was put in for it), and an O level in Childcare and Development, it was a CSE exam but I got top marks.
    Did you think the Monte children would be playing by themselves? they may have acted differently in a school playground scenario, I wasn't there to see that. At home their Mum got them to do chores, she was pretty strict too, but they were lovely children to be around. Polite and good natured.
    I hope you can find what you need for your 3, it is so very important and really does make or break what happens when schooling has finished.


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