This is a response to my friend Liz. She was looking for a pre-school for Teagan and she got me to thinking about my children's educational experiences and the way they are now.
"I have very little knowledge of Montessori Schools except for a vague belief that they are very 'free form'. My son Charlie was in a multi-age classroom for grades 1, 2, and 4, which was (in my eyes) an amazingly creative place, with terrifically motivated kids who seemed to be interested in everything and do a million different things at once in the classroom. However, when Charlie went to 5th grade, he had a VERY difficult time adjusting to the structure the regular classroom. I don't regret him being in those classes--those teachers are still the best he had. I see them once in awhile when I sub at his old elementary school and we always laugh and talk, but...I think one of the goals of school is to socialize our children so they can function as part of society on the job and in the community--and I always felt that the freeform nature of the multi-age classes made his life harder in the long run. Because life isn't really like that. You have to learn to play by very stringent rules in school, college, and on the job site. I sense this comment is very unlike me, but... I just remember how awesome Charlie's experiences were and how they paid attention to every aspect of his development (creativity included)--but I also see what a sad, out-of-place child he seems to be now... As if...he was in this wonderful unrealistically nurturing environment, then taken out of it and he never could adapt to...the mediocrity of most of the rest of the world.
This almost makes me cry rereading it, because who would want to put their child into an environment out of which his or her child would reach their maximum creative potential--particularly creative parents like me and like Liz?
I know that I think Charlie is different, special, but all parents do. I think that he's extremely unhappy in his public school setting. He long ago lost interest in doing anything but the absolute minimum to get by and is in the process of making choices that are...well, he'll be limited by them. But something about school, the social structure, or SOMETHING, killed something in him. And it's sad to see.
My final comment on this is a video sent to me by my high school assistant which is extremely thought-provoking: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
Good luck with your choice, Liz, and keep a better eye on things than I did.