Friday, May 23, 2008

The Penny Dropped

... and I realised I had a handle on the differences between Montessori, Charlotte Mason and Waldorf style education, as illustrated by nature study:

Montessori: Learn to identify wildflowers using three part cards and matching cards. Learn the parts of a flower with botany puzzles. Draw and label the parts of a flower.

Charlotte Mason
: Learn to identify wildflowers through spending lots of time outdoors or on nature walks. Draw them freehand in a nature notebook.

Waldorf: Learn to identify wildflowers through spending time in nature. Listen to stories about fairies and gnomes living in the flowers. Paint pictures of flowers using wet-on-wet techniques.


Jennifer said...

How funny. Sounds about right to me!

Theresa said...

I think you may be dealing with a little bit of a misconception about Montessori.
Maria Montessori had children use her materials in order to develop keenness of the senses and give children the specific vocabulary needed so that when they did go outside, they could make sense of what they saw. It was her opinion that she was giving them the mental tools they needed to go out and make discoveries on their own, rather than to "wander dreaming among the plants," not understanding or appreciating what they saw. In her words, to see "the Creation" rather than "the Chaos".

So, my description of the differences in nature study...
Montessori: the child going outside and possessing the background knowledge, vocabulary, and honing of the senses to be able to independently spot the difference between an oak and a maple because the child knows about pinnate and palmate, margins and venation.
CM: Child goes out and relies on teacher to expound on the oak and maple, draws it in nature notebook and copies a poem beside it.
Waldorf: Look at that pretty tree. I wonder if any fairies live in it? Lets read a story about grandfather oak...

Mary G said...

Perfect analysis .... and why I tend more toward CM than Montessori or Waldorf (altho I'm SO NOT nature-girl!)

The Bookworm said...

Theresa, aren't you talking about the end rather than the means? Am I wrong about the method used to achieve that end? I think the end of the CM method is similar, though the recognition through keen observation comes first, and the technical terminology later.

CM didn't like teachers (or parents) expounding ;). They were supposed to encourage observation and offer guidance with a light touch. And I think the idea of poems in nature notebooks is an accretion - CM's focus was on accurately observed nature drawing.

"Wander dreaming among the plants" may well apply to Waldorf, certainly in the early years.

Theresa said...

You could be right.I guess I was just reacting to the idea that Montessori education is limited to being indoors working on cards and puzzles. MM had the children outdoors planting gardens and caring for animals and all sorts of things.
I guess I see it more as not means and end, but all of it interwoven.
We don't just sit inside and do cards and puzzles until we have it all down and THEN go outside and apply what we've learned. It is a back-and-forth thing. What is done inside informs what is done outside. And what is done outside inspires more work inside, kwim?
Oh, and I totally bow to your superior knowledge of CM!LOL!

The Bookworm said...

Oh, and I bow to your superior knowledge of MM ;). And yes, you are absolutely right. Means and end are interwoven. With both MM and CM the inside and outside work should reinforce and build on each other. My impression, though, is that CM starts with the outside and MM with the inside. Maybe ending up with the same result? Waldorf is a different kettle of fish entirely, though I suspect I see more positives in it than you do.

The Bookworm said...

Just want to add ... although all three have different methods, the bottom line is that all three aim to inspire interest and make learning a joy rather than a chore. Which is why all three appeal to me, in different ways.

Theresa said...

Yes, actually I think they are all 3 wonderful models of education, with their own particular strengths and weaknesses, and there is a lot I like about all three.(Though I admit less so for Waldorf.) And since our children are all different, that is a great thing to have these choices, right? Hooray for homeschooling where we can choose the method to fit the child!

Dorothy said...

LOL! Yep, you got it!

I can do without the gnomes.