by Cass Winner, Director of Extended Programs at Wilmington Montessori School
“Why didn’t my marble go into the bucket?”
Every traditional classroom has one child who is so full of questions that some teachers may consider him or her to be annoying. In this educational model (the one most of us grew up with), information is transferred from teacher to student; teachers are supposed to ask the questions, and the children are supposed to answer them. In a Montessori classroom, questions are the engine of education. Not only do we welcome questions from the children, but we help them to find the answers.
At Wilmington Montessori School, the adventure does not end at 3 p.m. The hours traditionally seen as “out-of-school time” — before school, after school and days on which regular classes are closed — provide more opportunities to ask great questions and find real answers. The first response of a good teacher is often, “Why do you think the marble didn’t go into the bucket? What are your ideas?”
In Maribeth Low’s after-school room, second- through fourth-graders — a mix of WMS students and local public school students — spent the afternoons building electric circuits, creating 3-D sculptures with recycled materials, and playing math and strategy games. If they learned about gases in school that day and wondered how they behaved, they could mix baking soda and vinegar and watch a balloon blow itself up before their eyes. Continue reading