Near North Montessori #3

This is the third in a series of six raw tapes where videomaker Anda Korsts visits Near North Montessori School in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood of Chicago to learn about how it works.

0:00Copy video clip URL Interview with Jackie Bergen, Director of the Near North Montessori School. She again relays the purpose of the tape – to give a “slice of life at a Montessori school.” She believes very strongly in the advantages of her school – “You can’t help but see how much fun they’re having while they’re working, and how much work they’re doing while they’re having fun.” Bergen describes how she became involved with Montessori schools, which related to her dissatisfaction with traditional school systems in the United States. She describes her own elementary school experience as “restrictive” and “grim.” She feels it is important for parents to understand that “There are miracles happening every day in the lives of these children… learning to read, the first time a child sounds out a word… They’re ordinary miracles, but miracles nonetheless.” Upon questioning from Anda, Bergen describes her frustration that not all children can afford this type of education and her wish that there was a system where funding did not have to come from tuition.

6:50Copy video clip URL Anda turns the camera on herself to explain her personal experience with the school. She claims she saw a dramatic difference in her daughter’s attitude between her normal Montessori school and a summer school program she attended through Francis Parker, another Chicago private school. Jackie, Anda, and Miyako trade anecdotes about student life and education. Miyako holds the camera and shoots for awhile. Anda relays her concern that the school does not emphasize technology, which Bergen doesn’t really address other than saying they’re trying to secure funding for computers.

11:47Copy video clip URL Video goes black, but sound remains.

12:14Copy video clip URL Video returns. The crew is now visiting the 9-12 class. The teacher is a bit curt and sarcastic, and doesn’t respond to questions with the same Montessori rhetoric as the previously interviewed teachers. (“What is the goal of this class?” “To learn.” “How do you know when they do that.” “By the work.”) Anda gives up on him and interviews a girl named Karen, who shows off her model of an atom that she recently completed. Karen compares Montessori to her previous school, saying that at her old school they couldn’t move around very much and only worked out of one book, but she liked that all the kids lived in the same neighborhood. Another child is briefly interviewed with Karen.

18:54Copy video clip URL The father of one of the boys in the 9-12 class is present observing class that day. He was very impressed by what he saw: “I can summarize it by one word: excellence.” The boy feels the kids and teachers are nicer at Near North Montessori than at his old school, where they swore and fought, and that there wasn’t as interesting of work to do. The father feels that spending at least a day observing a class is helpful in understanding and appreciating the Montessori method.



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