Elementary and Our Work
By Sorrel Arends
The elementary training is rigorous, but rewarding. The work of the elementary child is to develop intellectual independence - no small task. The elementary trainers prepare the teacher for this work by presenting Montessori philosophy and instruction in "Cosmic Education," or, the study of everything in the universe. These lessons include the Montessori "key lessons" in math, geometry, language (written and spoken), history, biology, geography, science, music, and art.
This work provides insight into the building blocks of our own intellect. It also provides an introduction and opportunity to work with the brilliant Montessori materials. The materials are designed to allow the children (or the curious adult) to concretely manipulate or derive information that many of us learned by rote. For example, learning to derive square roots or cube roots is easy, fun, and makes sense using the Montessori materials. There were many days when my classmates and I would share "a-ha" moments when we realized that we understood something for the first time that we had "learned" by rote many years ago.
You're not alone. The training course is an experience that you share with many individuals who are also passionate about learning and teaching. The camaraderie that comes with a training course like this is strong and lasts well beyond the year spent together in training. Ten years after my training, I still consider my trainers and many of my classmates to be a phone call away if I have a question or need help finding a resource. There is also a strong Montessori elementary community facilitated by the AMI-Elementary Alumni Association. This on-line group, open to graduates of an AMI elementary training program, provides elementary teachers with a venue to ask questions and share resources with other teachers in the elementary community.
In the end, it's about the work we do. I am inspired by what the elementary children do in the classroom each day, and being able to teach this curriculum at a school that recognizes and supports the growth of the intellectual, social, and emotional child is hugely rewarding. The work seems overwhelming at times, and requires a great deal of time, commitment, and communication, but the results are clear. The children love to learn, and they develop intellectual independence while learning to navigate a social environment. It's great practice for "the real world."
Don't let anyone fool you - the elementary training is a lot of work and doesn't allow for a whole lot of free time outside of class work. Plan to immerse yourself in your training for the year. However, for those who are excited to learn more about the Montessori philosophy and method of teaching, it is an exciting, inspiring adventure.