Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Response to comment!

I'm getting grief in trying to post my response to the My Boys' Teacher's comment in the comment box. I'll try here, cross my fingers and hope it works!


My mind is going in all kinds of directions on this one.

First thought: Games are games and sports are sports. You need to know how to play if you want to be able to play it. I would expect showing kids how to hold a bat to be a part of the game. But I'm not sure I've ever heard of a Montessori-style sport. ;) I don't really see it any different from playing board games--you need to know what to do. Holding the bat is a basic. If the child is just wanting to hit balls, then maybe a Montessori-style presentation here and there to show the proper hold would work. When you are looking at a game situation... We're not talking general educational principles. We're talking about being part of a team and competition. It's a whole different... um... ball game. (Excuse the pun.)

Second thought: With kids just learning baseball, a lot of Montessori-style presentations would be good for learning how to hold the bat, put yourself in proper stance, etc. Doing it OUTSIDE of the game time as part of preparation rather than correcting them during the game would probably also be better--and definitely in line with Montessori.

Third thought: The child ought to have the choice to play baseball or not and ought to understand what it means to play baseball. If the child is choosing to play baseball, then he is choosing to learn how to play in a specific way, which involves not only rules of the game, but how to hold the bat. Baseball is not Montessori and I don't think one could run a team truly Montessori-style.

Fourth: Playing around on your piano at home is playing around on your piano at home; wanting to be a concert pianist is entirely different. ;)

I think the main thing is the particular aim of the situation. For example, my daughter has started ballet lessons. Talk about corrections! She's (mostly) fine with them, as she knows they will help her do ballet better and she's there to learn ballet. This was her choice. She knew what she was getting into. Same thing with piano: it's her choice to explore music in this way. If she ever decides she loves it so much she wants to excel at it, then she will seek out those who will be able to refine what she's doing even more.

I do completely agree: There are some things that need to be corrected asap. How she was playing was one of those things. She used to actually have proper curvature, but did not stay long enough at playing piano for it to become a life-long habit, apparently. She was about a week into daily playing this summer when I actually looked at her playing. Eek. My initial dealing of the situation was NOT Montessori-style. When I saw her reaction to my interjection, I realized immediately I had done wrong. I changed how I went about it, stopped correcting her in the middle of what she was doing and instead presented things just before she was about to start or just as she was finishing, etc. Basically, I thought about the best way to meet *her* in all her being. :) What I have done with her may not work with anybody else, I have to admit! lol.

Btw, here's an interesting blog post somewhat on this very topic!


  1. I particularly agree with your last paragraph. There are bad, good, better, and best ways/times to handle correction.

    Your second-last paragraph follows what I was trying to say as well.

    Where I disagree is with the first paragraph. I think your are right that "games are games and sports are sports and you need to know how to play if you want to play it." I would add "and instruments are instruments." As both a former classroom teacher and a professional musician I feel like I have a somewhat unique (although certainly not rare) perspective on this. I think playing an instrument is more like learning to play a sport than learning a hobby or academic subject. I think parents think it more like an academic subject. If one treats sports and academic subjects differently than one another, then it is important to know that music is more like a sport. In general, kids would do better if music if parents treated it that way.

    My previous comment is inspired by two things: First, my desire that parents KNOW that music is more like a sport. Second, I am intellectually interested in the idea of how one might approach sports, music and games differently if applying Montessori principles. I've never heard of a Montessori-style sport either, in fact offhand it sounds kind of silly. Since to me, music is like a sport that sounds kind of silly too. As a music teacher I think a lot aobut whether or not one music or sports SHOULD be approached in a more Montessori way, and that's why I wanted to talk about it with you :)

    There is a whole book devoted to approaching sports in what I feel is a more Montessori-way called the "inner-game of tennis." There are a lot of "inner-game" spin-offs now, some for other sports, and YES an "inner-game of music." Not surprising because learning an instrument is VERY MUCH like learning a sport.

  2. Well, now, you've got me thinking more! :)

    I think to get to the point of wanting to perform, yes, music has to be treated like a sport. However, some sports are really only played for fun, for the game aspect, and not for competition, and while certain rules have to be learned for there to not be disagreements among people, the "finesse" of certain things isn't necessarily learned and doesn't need to be. I mean, I've seen boys put their gloves on goofily for a fun round of baseball because they were just playing a game, not going all out for the sport, kwim? Of course, doing that would show them some very interesting things about why it works better to have it the other way for a competitive game. :)

    This is where the music learning comes in for me: just how serious is the child about it? Certain things just aren't important enough to tackle unless the child wants to improve. I think with lessons, though, it's got to be more like how sports are. But it's an interesting thought, isn't it--how could Montessori philosophy be incorporated more into music and sports?

    Tell me more (or share on your blog) about how you see learning an instrument like learning a sport. What do you see as being the basic approach?