The article I read, Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia, was an overview of those three models. I liked how the articles were able to give an overview of the three models so that people who were unaware of what each model represented could get a general idea. However, I read it as my third article when I wish I read it as my first. That way I could see from the beginning that Montessori might not have been right for me. In addition, the article talked about the similarities between each model and at some points it got a little confusing because they started to all sound the same.
I joined the Waldorf group during the discussion and we talked about how Waldorf was co-educational, open to children of all backgrounds, and independent of external control. This was unheard of at that time when it started. We discussed how it focused around art and story telling, music, play, etc. which in turn helps children focus on motivation and concentration. One group member said they thought it was really interesting that the children made their own textbooks. I really enjoy this school model and would like to keep researching it.
There were quite a few people who read about the Waldorf curriculum, so we split up into two groups to discuss it. I read the article “Holistic Education and the Brain: A Look at Steiner-Waldorf Education” by Abigail Larrison, which researches the effectiveness of the Waldorf teaching method in comparison to a regular public school. It was noted that younger students did poorly on tests because they were not focused on academics early on, but by the time they were 13 or 15 years old they were doing just as well, if not better than, the other school studied. It was also discussed that there is potential to reduce the rate of ADHD in children who attend a Waldorf school because they are able to develop their basal ganglia more by not focusing on academcis too early on. This is the area of the brain that focuses on attention and motivation. They made it appear that children are being pushed into academics too early and it has a negative effect on their learning.
The discussion with my group found that the Waldorf approach seems to be focused around caring and story-telling. The teachers are supposed to be like another parent to the child and one group member thought that was inappropriate. You also have the same teacher for something around 8 years. This is an interesting concept. I am unsure of how I feel about that as a future teacher. It sounds nice to watch the children grow through the education you provide for them, but I’m not sure if I want to do something like that. I do like that the early years focus more on arts and story-telling before they get into math and sciences. They focus on concrete learning before going into abstract concepts. I like most aspects to the Steiner-Waldorf Education and would like to read more about it later in the semester.
I read The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori and found that I really did not know that much about it. We discussed in groups and my group seemed to all come to the conclusion that Montessori is a little too structured for our tastes. One group member is not a child development major and it was interesting to see her point of view on the teaching theories. She had a hard time distinguishing the differences in the beginning. I liked how Montessori catered to an individual child letting them take as long as they need, but it seemed as if there was only one right way to do things. There are certain steps when taking out an activity and there is only one answer a child can reach. I prefer something a little less structured, letting the child discover things their own way. I really liked how the activities reflected real life tasks, like polishing silver. I like being able to connect learning experiences to real life. Overall I think this style of learning would suit some children well, but I might choose a different approach in my style of teaching.