children in learning activities. Hands-on activities cover an array of student interest and ability levels. Classrooms are designed for multi-age groups which promote student collaboration. The trained teacher will be a facilitator in the educational process by assisting children in cultivating a love or learning through concerned development, independence, self-discipline, motivation, by making discoveries with the learning materials (Lillard, 1972).
The student-teacher relationship is a crucial aspect of the Montessori philosophy because it is the teacher who allows the student to develop fully into a human being. One tenet of Montessori education is looping. Looping is a term that involves having the same teacher for two or more consecutive years. Previous research suggests that looping can prevent and reduce disciplinary issues in the school environment. Although Montessori does not practice looping in the most rigid sense (Lindsey, Irving, Tanner, and Underdue, 2008) since the contingent of students change as younger students move in and older students move up in the class. Notwithstanding, having the same teacher for multiple years permits students to develop closer and more personal relationships with teachers (Lindsay et al. 2008; Thompson, Franz, & Miller, 2009). Teachers would argue, and many scholars agree, that enhancing teacher-student relationships is a compelling reason to reduce discipline problems in the classroom (Jones, Jones, and Vermette, 2013; Wolk, 2003). Taking student-teacher relationships into account, research supports the hypothesis that disciplinary sanctions are lowered than in traditional school setting.
The student-focused classroom of Montessori schools allows for high levels of student engagement (Lillard, 2005), which has been linked to lower levels of student disruption and misbehavior (Klem & Connell, 2004). Castellanos (2002) discovered elementary Montessori students exhibited significantly less aggressive behavior than their peers in similar Montessori schools. This behavior could be due to Montessori facilitating the development of self-regulation (Ervin, Wash, and Mecca, 2010), which may also reduce disruption and misbehavior in elementary school children. The multiage nature of the Montessori school imparts a continuity of classroom culture and climate from year to year, therefore, allowing older students to convey the norms and expectations of the classroom to younger and new students (Lillard, 2005). Montessori students are also less sedentary than their peers; This freedom of motion allowed in the Montessori classroom may prevent disciplinary sanctions, particularly in more active children (Byun, Blair, & Pate, 2013). These practices create a child-centered environment where the child is free to express themselves with a known adult which leads to less disciplinary issues in classrooms.
In the last forty years, Montessori has expanded throughout the American school system. There are now five hundred Montessori schools with 125, 000 students; which boasts an impressive fifty-four percent enrollment rate for people of color forming the most extensive alternative pedagogy in the public school system. It offers a child-focused, developmental curriculum where learning is highly individualized, and students progress at their paces. An optimal balance in a Montessori classroom decides between individuality and community; pursuit of personal interests and preferences while interacting with multiage peers in a collaborative learning environment. Edwards compared the three more alternative school pedagogy in America; he argues that all three create active authors of their development, strongly influenced by natural, dynamic, self-righting forces within themselves, opening the way toward growth and learning (Edwards, 2002). Even though I will focus more on Montessori schools throughout my research, those comparisons are critical to applying my analysis to other progressive school models.
As Montessori increasingly takes over the public sector of education, school choice is repeatedly a cause for concern for the racial diversity that is so vital to the cultural aspect of Montessori schools. Historically, school choice emerged for people who could afford to place their students in private or parochial schools (Walrip, 2005). School choice mainly developed after the forced desegregation of American public schools and Caucasians Americans wanted to ensure that their children were not forced to mingle with students of colors. Forced desegregated resulted in parents moving from urban school districts to avoid mandating busing, or enroll in private schools. Race and socioeconomic status stratify the United States education system. School choice offers a plethora of advantages for parents. Scholars argue that it provides viable alternatives to community choices, increases free market competition, transference of power from state institutions to families, and grow in parental involvement. Many parents are displeased with the educational opportunities in their neighborhood which is why some parents are willing to go far distances and pay large tuition prices to create better economic trajectories. Free market choice shifts the power from government agencies to parents and students (Harrison, 2005). Financial pressures should not hinder lower-income from sending their children to private schools; they should have more viable options for their children. Harrison argues that competition for students increases incentives for schools to â€œperform, improve, and change.â€ At the core of the free-market approach is the idea that parents choose by seeking out information and weighting available options to decide what school will be best for the child. Because parents actively select their childâ€™s school, they are more likely to be involved in their childâ€™s educational career. Traditional schools are associated with these factors: punitive punishment, lack of self-discipline in students, overreliance on direct instruction, and a socially and culturally relevant curriculum, continuation of segregated schools, shortage of quality teachers, racially based tests, disproportionate poverty and childhood trauma and other legacies of racism. Outside of school, students are still assaulted by community fragmentation, gang violence, scarcity of community resources, and the disintegration of traditional family unit (Fleming, Barner, Hudson and Rosignon-Carmouche, 2000; MacLeod, 1995; Wilson, 1992; Au, 2010; Anyon, 2014; Darling-Hammond, 2010; Ladson-Billings and Tate, 1995). Parents have a multitude of reasons to enact school choice. However, once adopted race and socioeconomic status stratifies school choice. School choice favor parents who are better informed and who have time to research options. (Hsieh and Shen, 2001; Wells, 1990) Instead of aiding families who need good schools, a choice program may lead to more significant educational stratification. Critics argue that people are innately denied choice when they lack information, money, or available options. These critics also argue that decision serves the interest of the rich and increases the gap between those who are successful at manipulating systems and those who are not (Moore and Davenport, 1990). Klauke argues that choice reinforces stratification and benefits white, affluent families more so than a minority and low-income families.
Over the past years, Montessori, and progressive schools like it, have been seen as an increasingly viable alternative for parents who want to provide a liberal education within a racially diverse environment that focus on child-centered learning. Although Montessori schools have gone from private to public sectors, many schools still require tuition to offset the cost of the classroom. Therefore, accessibility to these schools can be limited to families who reside in lower income brackets (Peshkin,2000). These educational programs are often consigned to its schools, leading to a partial understanding of what exactly the theory and practice are (Benham, 2010; Zarbinsky, 2010). Parents are unwilling to make a life-changing decision about their childâ€™s education if they are unaware of the effects and benefits of such educational practices. â€œThe social network of more highly-educated parents is more likely to include professional with knowledge of the educational system. Parents with less education have access to accurate and detailed information. Other researchers have found parents with higher education, and income tends to be more attuned to educational issues, have a greater understanding of the educational system, and are more aware of school quality (bomotti, 1996; Bussell, 1998).â€ To enroll in progressive schools, parents must research their choices, navigate complicated information systems, and sometimes provide transportation, all who are burdens to the most impoverished families. As mentioned before, income and education level is directly tied to school choice.
Marketing in these educational spaces is directed toward families of higher education level and income. Montessori schools and brochures emphasize long-term and broad benefits, rather than concrete outcomes that might appeal to parents with a utility focus approach. Montessori schools are often described in abstract terms such as personal development and intellectual exploration. Abstract terms call to parents with significant educational capital (Pugh, 2009). Marketing a curriculum by de-emphasizing academics and highlighting holistic characters have the unintended consequences of appealing to people who are already confident and aware their children to succeed academically. These parents are willing to risk that an alternative school might not deliver immediate translatable skills to a mainstream job market (Kimelburg, 2014). School officials who employ these methods of marketing forget to include students who needed to value the pillars of the school must first be exposed to those types of environments. Unger (2016) demonstrated that magnet schools with themes that required prerequisites knowledge or offered specific ways of learning were more desirable to white parents while subjects with a college prep or character focus were more sought out by parents of color, unaffected by location. Socioeconomic status is the primary explanation for high or low levels of involvement. Laureau drawing from Bourdieuâ€™s ideas of cultural capital (1984) found middle and upper-middle-class parents used their cultural money and time flexibility to volunteer in their childrenâ€™s schools and more effectively advocate for their children. This involvement is critical when progressive schools seek active engagement, input, and feedback from the community (Klauke, 1988).
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