Near North Montessori #1

This is the first 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.

00:00Copy video clip URL Jackie Bergen, Director of the Near North Montessori School, introduces herself and talks about the purpose of the tape, which is simply to show a day in the life of children at the school. She explains the philosophy of the Montessori education, which involves learning while doing.

01:43Copy video clip URL Bergen introduces her assistant, Miyako Yoshida, who will be the guide for the tape. She explains, “In each classroom we hope to point out some of the unique apparatuses as well as the children interacting with each other and the teacher.”

2:16Copy video clip URL Camera is turned on Anda and sound man Mark Fausner. Anda explains her concept of the tape, which is “A glimpse in to the way it works and the spirit of the school and the children.” She explains that she consciously chose to use black and white video so they could shoot in low light, and thus not disturb the children’s natural environment. She explains that the tape will be “not a comprehensive look at the theories or the school, but rather an attempt to give a glimpse into the way it works, the spirit of the children, and the general atmosphere of the school.”

2:53Copy video clip URL The tour begins with the pre-school children, aged 3-6. The 5-year-olds are learning about the timeline of the evolution of plants and animals on Earth. Miyako explains that they hope to provide a “cosmic education” which “shows a continuum” between the needs of man and the environment. The teacher, Alpana, begins to explain the “plant age,” but most of the children are distracted by the camera. The crew moves away to other areas of the classroom, where Miyako explains the division of space in a Montessori classroom. She shows how they teach abstract concepts through physical objects, beginning with a series of different groups of beads (1,10,100,1000), which leads to associating them with the more abstract concepts of those numbers. Miyako shows some of the other objects that they use to teach, and explains that their philosophy emphasizes learning through several different senses, plus using precise scientific terms. The goal of the 3-6 program is to build concentration, independence, and a good feeling about learning. She explains that the founder of the Montessori schools called it “the house of children,” where everything is children-sized. She also shows another interesting tool, a “movable alphabet,” which allows the children to form words before they have the manual dexterity to be able to write.

12:18Copy video clip URL Miyako takes Anda and Mark to the 6-9 class. The teacher, Maureen Pifer, explains the goal of this level. By the time they move to the 9-12 class, they should have learned a sense of discipline, the abilty to read with comprehension, an understanding of the development of life on earth, parts of speech, basic appreciation of spelling, animal and plant classification, and generally the ability to concentrate. The primary teaching tool at this level is also a timeline of the development of life on earth.

16:35Copy video clip URL Anda and Mark go to a separate room with two students to demonstrate some of the learning aids. A student named Alex demonstrates the checkerboard, which is a board with movable numbers that is used to teach math concepts like multiplication tables.

19:26Copy video clip URL Next, Danny shows a game that is used to teach fractions by using pie pieces of different sizes to show physically how adding or subtracting fractions works. In the last few seconds of the tape, Anda and Mark sum up their initial impressions of the students, feeling that overall, these students have much more fun than they did when they were in school.



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