This morning, I felt like I was in business school all over again.
So the Montessori school that my daughter goes to is exploring the possibility of introducing an adolescent (12-18 age group) program that follows the Montessori philosophy. Towards this end, they are having a series of “seminars” with parents to explain the methodology and collect feedback.
Before the first such “seminar” two months ago, they had sent us all a paper written by Dr. Maria Montessori and asked us to read it in preparation. When we walked in to school, we were all given copies of the same paper and asked to read it before the discussions started. The teachers walked in after having given all of us to read through the paper once again. “This sounds like Amazon”, I had thought.
To give parents full flavour of the proposed program, we were told that these sessions mirror what the adolescent version of the school is supposed to be like. Each session involves discussion of a piece of written text. All participants are supposed to have read it beforehand. And discussions have to be on point to the reading – like every note of participation has to refer to a particular page and paragraph. I had come away from the first session thinking “these guys seem to be trying to recreate business school in high school”.
And then, this morning, at the second such session, I got a taste of this medicine as well. I’ve had two insanely productive days at work last two days, which has meant that evenings I’ve been rather tired and unable to really read the paper (once again it was a paper by Dr. Montessori). This morning, I woke up late and by the time I got to school for the session (that began at 8am), I’d barely managed to glance through the paper.
I furiously tried to read it before the teachers came in, and barely managed a fourth. The teachers reminded us of the rules – all discussing points had to refer to specific parts of the paper, and we couldn’t talk “generally” (ruling out any “arbit class participation”). Also, the teachers would not “lead” the discussion – the format of the class was such that it was peer discussion.
I’m speculating here, but it is possible that many other parents this morning were also in my state – having turned up to class having not read the prescribed reading. Initially the CP was slow and deliberate. That we had to reply to each other (and keep referring to the text as we did so) made it slower. There were a few awkward pauses which I tried to use to hurriedly read the rest of the paper. I was also getting distracted, planning this blogpost in my head. I was also simultaneously feeling horrible about not having come to the session prepared, and was thinking I’m a horrible parent.
The format of the discussion helped, though, as different people kept referring to different sections of the paper, and I sort of read through it in a non-linear fashion. In about ten minutes, in the course of the discussion I had probably read through the entire text. And then I started unleashing.
All those business school skills came of good use – despite the constrained format, I somehow winged through today’s session (not that that was the intended consequence). By the end of the session I had comfortably spoken the most in the group. Old habits die hard, I guess.
It weirdly felt like I was business school once again. And as it happened, I noticed that the person next to me was wearing an IIMB T-shirt (though he didn’t put too much CP)!
On a more serious note, maybe this kind of a schooling format in high school might mean that the children may not really need to go to college!