Near North Montessori #5

This is the fifth 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 After school. School director Jackie Bergen, several teachers, and a former student (now in her first year of high school) are sitting around in a break room having coffee and snacks. Korsts questions the former student, Tracy, about her Montessori experience and how it contrasts with high school. She claims that the result of her Montessori education was that “I feel that I’m more in touch with the people that I meet.” She says that the people at her high school are more competitive and snobby than the people she knew from Montessori. In response to Korsts’ question, she describes the Montessori philosophy as “getting the students to have a good grip on themselves and their teachers.” Alex Roker is a parent with two children in the school in addition to being a teacher. She tells a story about the Montessori founder, who likened her experience to a dog owner. The owner points to a dog bone and says “Look! Get the bone!” but the dog bites her finger instead of the bone. This analogy is meant to point out Maria Montessori’s discomfort when people focus on her instead of the children. The group then talks about what motivates Montessori teachers.

10:06Copy video clip URL Camera cuts to long shot. More casual conversation about what the teachers like and don’t like about children. One teacher comments that she loves the fact that they learn so quickly and are open and spontaneous. Miyako comments that children take in everything from every cell in their body, whereas adults are more cerebral and disregard intuition.

13:41Copy video clip URL The camera cuts, but the discussion seems to be on the same thread. In the Montessori classroom “the children’s uniqueness comes out.” Mark Fausner is shooting now, as Korsts is in the background having coffee and a cigarette. She asks what the most common misconception about Montessori is. The teachers immediately respond to this with a wide variety of anecdotes. They say people think it’s too structured. Korsts says that before she sent her kids there she heard something about the kids sitting on cabinets. Other teachers say they hear either that the school is only for geniuses or only for mentally retarded kids. People say that outsiders comment in shock that the children have to sit on a line (which apparently is true). Bergen notes that a common misconception is that anything a child learns is because the teacher taught them, but in fact children love to learn and will find things on their own according to their interests. Korsts asks the group to go around and give brief summaries of their upbringings, in order to get a clue as to what type of people become Montessori teachers, but the tape runs out while the first person, Jackie Bergen, is still talking.

22:25Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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