Montessori and Waldorf: the Yang and Yin of education

Montessori and Waldorf education are both founded in deep respect for the child, and they can complement each other when applying Inspired Self-Directed Learning. They are an example of the Yin and Yang-energy in education. Montessori education supports the practical, academic and intellectual development of the child extraordinarily well. Whereas Waldorf schools lay emphasis on the creative and spiritual development. Both approaches are needed to assist children in reaching their full potential joyfully.

Here’s an example: Montessori called the child’s activity ‘work’, because she saw that the children she worked with enjoyed ‘real-life’ activities, such as cooking, cleaning and planting and they lost interest in pretend play. Children today however, are often ‘pretend-play-deprived’! They need prepared environments where they can ‘play out’ their real-life and TV-experiences as a way to process tension and emotions.
I am currently assisting a Montessori-school in the East San Francisco Bay, to create a play therapy space as an offer for specific children. This is a step towards acknowledging that pretend play is a way of healing, and needs to be part of a complete elementary curriculum.

Another example: I am currently tutoring a 13-year-old girl from the Marin/North Bay who is going to Waldorf school. I am assisting her academic and intellectual development with Montessori materials, mostly in math and grammar. Within a few weeks, the girl made extraordinary progress because she could see and touch basic concepts such as addition, division, fractions etc. She also regained joy and self-esteem by finally ‘grasping’ what had been a confusing thought construct. At Waldorf schools academic subjects are taught in a very traditional way, the teacher talking, the children at desks being taught in a group. Children are divided by age and sometimes by skills, so they don’t have the opportunity to learn from each other. Additionally, Waldorf-schools don’t offer the hands-on learning materials they have in Montessori-schools.

In “Inspired Self-Directed Learning” children can have the full spectrum of educational tools available, depending on the willingness of the teachers to educate themselves and provide them. Feeding the genuine curiosity of a child, and keeping the joy of learning alive through an inspiring environment and intentional lessons to choose from, supports the natural development of children towards their full potential as compassionate self-directed beings.

New Learning Culture can assist any school in including additional learning opportunities. Please get in touch. No budget is too small.

With joy,
Carmen Gamper

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