One of the positive aspects to being an alternative pedagogy is that there are often fewer students (though the largest school in the world has 52000 students, and is a Montessori school in Lucknow, India), so often the class sizes are small.
The understanding of the importance of choice is important as it leads to an aspect of the way the curriculum is presented,
As a community our identity emerges, we refer to ourselves as a Montessori group. We have an identity. We develop an intimacy, and a knowledge of each other, the classes can be flexible and able to take into account the individual or group needs. We can go outside or we can allow someone to take some space when needed.
Within the curriculum, we allow for all that human-ness to come through. And this human aspect is important to any curriculum. Curriculum is strongly influenced by these relationships. The students have expectations of all the things they want to be.
In forming initial relationships with the students, expectations are clear. We specifically state that there are “high expectations”. The alumni of previous courses are invited back to be part of the class. Each year we have people returning, in both mentoring and furthering their own knowledge capacities. The students feel comfortable with the multiple levels of learning, asking for help, understanding that there is an ongoing commitment to building a community of Montessori teachers, and establishing a peer network.
The teacher / learner process is actually dependent on relationships. Within the Montessori setting a student might say “If you care for and respect me then you might pay attention to the things that are important to me” whereas the lecturer may believe “if I give you opportunity, and you feel safe in my company, and the culture is not one of judgement, and I can refer to your personal experience, you can trust in the ideas that I am presenting”. In this situation the learner is a part of the curriculum that I have in the Montessori courses. For example, we have a marae experience, three days of living together, and we start to get to know each other as co-learners, it is very powerful for the development of our relationships. The students and staff get to know each other in the social aspect, so the group forms a closeness.
One of the rather wonderful aspects of Marae living is the opportunity to see the three dimensional person. We see each other - tired in the morning when we have just woken up, we see ourselves going for a midnight swim, preparing a meal, and so on, we see each other. This brings so many other dimensions which enrich the teacher / learner relationship.
We believe relationships are key to building a community and understanding with one another. If you want to know more about our community (or even our marae experience) get in touch!