Montessori and NOT GETTING IT

A person (actually a teacher in Texas, I think) who posts on Facebook as “Maria Montessori” has linked to a series of videos over the past week having to do with the Pink Tower, which is one of the most recognizable materials in a Montessori Primary classroom. The first is an overview of the material by Ginni Sackett, the Primary trainer at Montessori Institute Northwest, which is the AMI teacher training center in Portland, OR. It’s just her talking, but Ginni is brilliant and knows her stuff, so she is very much worth listening to.

The second is a video of a child actually building a Pink Tower. One of my favorite things about this is how well it shows the self-correcting aspect of the Pink Tower. You can see the child figure out that he hasn’t got it right and then figure out how to unbuild until he can put the blocks on in the right order. No adult intervention needed. In fact, there are no adults in that entire video. But my absolute favorite thing about this video is the look on the boy’s face at the end when he finishes the tower. Now that’s satisfaction..

And the third is a video by someone (or someones) who does not get it.

This video makes me so sad. Why doesn’t the child have arms? Why does there need to be a person with a machine to move all the blocks? The great thing about the Pink Tower is how well it empowers a three year old. A child can move the pieces, figure out what piece comes next, put the tower together, and decide when she’s gotten it right all by herself. But in this video, the child can’t do any of that. Why in god’s name would a small child care about unions and whether there’s a proper work order? Those are adult issues. Why does the little girl need someone to talk her through every step of putting the tower together? Why does she need to be told “okay, it’s time to go off to the next station now” after the tower gets put together? Why do the blocks need to talk? Why does the small block need to move all by itself despite being a block? And why, oh why must the child be instructed to choose the next block correctly in a song?

Why do people do these things?

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5 thoughts on “Montessori and NOT GETTING IT

  1. Nikki says:

    Tiny Oaks = fail. Why would a kid even want to sit there and watch a video about it, rather than just doing the activity? It seemed more like a ploy to get parents to spend money on their crap videos with the unions blah paperwork blah joke. Amanda spends all her time just saying “wow”, while the fucking blocks are more animate than her. So much ew.

    • superplexa says:

      I didn’t actually find any of those videos, but thanks anyway. I can understand not knowing where to start. There are so many things wrong with that video that I could probably write a doctoral dissertation on the assumptions behind it. Utterly horrifying.

  2. Tasha says:

    Watching those videos (okay, confession – I couldn’t make it through more than 30 seconds of that last one either) makes me think about how much trouble students often have in doing real problem solving in math. So many times they’re just told to plug in the numbers and get the solution, without ever thinking about WHY it’s that way. It really struck me that in many ways it’s exactly like that last video – have someone tell you exactly how to do it, and then plug it in. While the child in the Montessori video was working out the problem, making mistakes, backtracking, and doing it again until he got it right. Wonder which version is a more effective teaching tool? Oh no, wait, I don’t wonder.

  3. I found your video post from What Did We Do All Day – thank you for posting this! I really found the first video useful, and enjoyed watching the work in action in the second. To date, I have never seen someone actually work with the pink tower in person – I am tryiing to use Montessori in my homeschool, but am converted from traditional and don’t have many of the authentic materials yet. From the stand-point of someone who was once traditional, I can see where the idea comes from for a video such as the last one, although I even think it was poorly done. I do let my children watch SOME educational videos that are fun for children, but I have a hard time thinking that would even be a good one :/ And for anything Montessori – it’s horrible! Thank you for sharing the pink tower information – I hope to one day be able to make/purchase it and it helps to see the presentation before hand so I can try to do my best with the materials when using them for my youngest!

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