October 27, 2022
This year I am noticing something that has always been there but, for some reason, is so much more painfully obvious to me now: the collective dread of school.
A few examples:
- There’s my 17-year-old cousin on Facebook who posts frequent updates about how much she dislikes her teachers and school in general (this is at a prestigious private school, by the way).
- The mom blogger who recently wrote of her third grader who, despite doing well socially in the classroom and being liked by his teachers, comes home every day to complain about how much he hates school and even declares, “I hate learning.”
- While visiting a children’s museum I noticed a whiteboard on a wall with a prompt for children to answer. The question was, “What new thing have you learned this week?” One child wrote, “Nothing! I don’t learn during the summer.”
I cringe every time I hear students complain about school. I want to shake them and say, “It doesn’t have to be this way!!”
My husband attended Montessori through elementary and transitioned to conventional programs for middle and high school. He recently told me about how strange it was to notice the divergent attitudes about school between the Montessori students and the conventional students.
In Montessori, the thought of disliking school was just…. nonexistent. Sure, kids sometimes acted out, but overall everyone enjoyed going to school. It was a fun place to be, and learning was exciting. He recalls reading Calvin and Hobbes cartoons and not understanding why Calvin hated school so much (as an aside, when re-reading those strips I have to think Bill Watterson was or easily could be an avid Montessorian).
But his experience in a conventional school was completely the opposite. Suddenly, everyone talked about skipping classes and how boring and useless school was. Learning was decidedly “uncool.” I remember this from my own experiences as well; I attended a highly regarded high school and took many honors classes. Even there it wasn’t “cool” to like your teachers or classes or to do well. I also remember that the experience with my 6th-grade teacher convinced me I hated science. Years later discover that science is fascinating (in college I ended up minoring in Biology, no thanks to my 6th-grade teacher).
Somehow our culture has convinced students that learning only happens by force and only inside a classroom. Learning is something you only do because you have to, never for fun or because you just want to. What a shame…especially when Montessori education offers a time-tested and proven method that supports a child’s natural curiosity and love of learning!