Meet our Graduates - Alden

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 A little about you:
As a young male with no children, I'm a little unusual in the Montessori world, so I'm often asked how I made the decision to work with 3-6 year-olds. The abridged version of the story is that I was looking for a career which I could reconcile with my desire to contribute to the creation of a better future, rather than simply a means of acquiring money. I'd settled on teaching, when, serendipitously, my then-girlfriend's grandmother suggested that I look into Montessori. The more I read about the theories and methods employed by Montessorians, the more convinced I became that this system fosters exactly the kind of self-motivated, socially-conscious lifelong engagement with learning that I wanted to see in the next generation. Now, with my training complete, I can happily report that my initial suspicions were correct: this type of education works wonders for its students, and for the world in which they will live.

Describe the course workload:
The course drops a very large amount of information (both theoretical and practical) onto its students in a relatively short time (has it been 9 months already?). Don't be intimidated, but be prepared to spend plenty of time out of class practicing, studying, and typing. There will be LOTS of typing.

How well did the course prepare you to be a Montessori teacher?
While it's still a little early to say for certain, as I prepare for my first year in a classroom of my own, I feel confident that this course has prepared me to be not only a Montessori guide, but a darn good one. The trainers and staff not only know the material and the ideas which support our work, they actually love what they (and we) do. Their knowledge, enthusiasm, and dedication make light work of even the most challenging subject matter, allowing the students to incorporate basic Montessori principles into their own lives, even outside the classroom. We don't just learn how to act like Montessori guides, we incarnate the role.

Did you enjoy your training at MNW?
I absolutely enjoyed my time at MNW. The group of students I trained with were more focused and dedicated than any other group I've encountered in academia. Over the course of my training, we became a 34-person family, a 34-person study/support/social group with ties deeper than I ever could have expected back in September. One thing I could always be certain of during my time at the Institute: if I needed a friend, one would be there, ready to help.

What were some unexpected challenges?
Believe it or not, sometimes grad school can be a bit stressful. The amount of attention to detail required by some of the lessons surprised me at first. That eases with experience, though.

What were some unexpected highlights?
Honestly, even after making the decision to come to MNW, I had no idea that work with children of this age could be so incredibly satisfying. Once I realized that, even at the tender age of 2.5, these children have robust, distinct personalities, I knew (once again) that I had made the right choice. The children in my classroom are not merely “students.” They are fellow members of the society we build together. They are my friends, my peers (on a certain level), and they represent the best possible future for ourselves and the world.

Would you recommend this course to others?
Everyone should have the privilege of at least the first few weeks of the course, especially parents. The theories of Maria Montessori and her proteges will open your eyes to the way the world could (and, perhaps, should) be.

Any advice for incoming students?
First and foremost: brush up on your typing skills. I'm not kidding about the amount of typing involved in the coursework. Second, take seriously the recommendation to limit your other commitments. If you must have a job, you can make it (some of my fellows in Course 34 worked full-time), but I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Third, find a way to keep your stress level as low as you can. Whatever you do, have an outlet for your energies which isn't directly related to school. Lastly, don't be afraid to be idealistic. We can and we will change the way the world works, for the better, one child at a time. This is monumental work, and you are the best person to do it.

Posted on July 1, 2013 and filed under Graduates | Testimony.