Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reflections on my first Australian Montessori school visit.

So this morning I did managed to make my visit to the Forestville Montessori School, as it had an Open Day. I almost did not make it as I woke up late. There are not many buses that run from the city to Forestville, so getting there also took a while. But anyways, I managed to make my way there. 

I am sure you're wondering excitedly how the school was?

The school, without any doubt, is a school that subscribes fully to Montessori principles. Apparently, as I later found out, the centre is also an outsourced AMI training centre, where local students who want to enrol in Montessori courses can do it there.

The 3 Year Cycle
The school strictly follows the three-year cycle as written by Montessori, and the enrolment of the children starts around the age of three. It would prove a difficult task for students who have never started in a montessori school from the younger age to be able to move up to the older classes, as Montessori schools have their own set curriculum.

The classes are divided into the three year cycle where students are enrolled from the age of three onwards.

Cycle 1: 3-6 years.
Cycle 2: 6-9 years.
Cycle 3: 9-12 years

At the end of any cycle, the parents are allowed to withdraw their children, and they may enrol in a normal public/private school of their choice.

State Regulations
In the case of most montessori preschools/kindergarten that are attached to a primary school, children in the Cycle 1 years fall under two different assessing and education boards.

In NSW, for the children that falls between the ages of 0- 5 years, that would be the Department of Community Services (DOCS), and for children aged 6 years and above, this would fall under the normal primary schools that falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.

Hence, I believe the same legislation applies too for any other Montessori school that is attached to an elementary school.

As for how the Montessori schools can meet the National Curriculum, check out this link here from the Montessori Australia website.

My Impressions
It was a first for me to visit a fully Montessori preschool + elementary school. It was most definitely an exciting experience, as in Malaysia, we may have Montessori preschools, but not anything beyond that age group.

Further, in Malaysia, children start school at age 7, so if Malaysian preschools wanted to implement a Cycle 1 (three years) it may likely be possible. The difficulty being that there would b no continuity into Cycle 2 or 3 in the later years. 

One of the administrators brought me around the school, for I was looking a little lost in the huge area of the school. She was really friendly and warm!

I observed that in regards to the population of the school, it seemed to be the size of three houses put together, so you can gather that the school population is almost like a close knit big family. 

I did mention to the administrator that I had done my montessori training under the UK umbrella (Montessori Centre International) and was wondering how different it was compared to AMI (Association Montessori Internationale), to which, she said the most interesting thing...

That regardless of where one does their training, what matters most is that the student gets the heart of the philosophy was. Which was comforting to hear.

Montessori Certification 
I get the general idea that montessori schools that are attached to a primary school, may run on a similar platform. For schools that do run on the three year cycle, especially those which are attached to a primary school, where AMI's certification courses would be more relevant as it would cater for the 3 year cycle.

My understanding is that as many principals in Australia are trained under AMI, they therefore are familiar with the AMI, having gone through the training. As human nature would state, most principals will need some, or may want to some of the information background of the examination board/background/type of assessment done when looking at transcripts/teaching credentials as they want to be careful when hiring a teacher onboard. 

As MCI's certification is for children 2.5 -6 years, it may probably make more sense in Malaysia, or other types of montessori centres that are not attached to a primary school, since for the most part, children do enter primary school  at 6 years.

I really doubt I'd pay 12,000AUD just to redo a Montessori course, when I have already graduated from one. Yes, and the MCI International Diploma is no doubt recognised in the UK and other parts of the world.

and yes, if you are wondering again, ALL teachers in Australia still need their 4 year degree in order to be a registered teacher whether at public/private/religious schools. And if heading to a montessori school, the necessary Montessori credentials on top of it!

2 comments:

Joe said...

Hi, I really like your post. I have been around in KL and cannot find any male teachers and the directress would not even consider hiring a male teacher even if he was qualified.

I think by now you would have guessed that I fit the description. Yes, I am a male and qualified from MMI. I guess I am a rare breed in the Montessori World.

I am also currently doing my research on opening up a Montessori Center or taking over an existing one.

What do you think of a male teaching\directing in a Montessori school?

CY said...

Yes, even male teachers in Australian preschools are an exception rather than the norm. Nevermind what people say about the equality of male and females in preschools, but the gender bias and mindset still exists.

Most of the males work with the preschool ages (3-5) rather than the younger ages..

As for directing, or being a director or opening your own Montessori school, that might be a more viable option for most males.

I have a feeling that most parents (asian ones, that is) are more open to the notion of males being a director/owner rather than being a teacher.

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