I had a short conversation with the cooperating teacher I'm student teaching with yesterday. It went a little like this:
Her: I know you're looking to go into Montessori, but the reality for me, as a public school teacher, is that I have to get these guys ready for the state test in March. I HAVE to. It's my job.
Me: I know. I know that's reality, and while I'm student teaching here, that's my job, too.
Her: *sigh* I wish I could go back to how I taught when I was teaching fifth grade, which was thematically. When I taught thematically, I could encompass ALL of the subjects, and the students were naturally more engaged because they were earnestly interested.
Me: But you won't be able to teach that way now, anyway, because the district has adopted math and reading programs.
Her: ... You're right. *gets up*
*ten minutes later*
Her: You're right. I wouldn't be able to teach that way anymore. It sucks. *sigh*
She had obviously been thinking about it after our conversation ended.
Today, a friend linked me to this article about play based learning. Reading it, I knew that my heart firmly agreed. To requote from the article's source, Scientific American,
"...parents might be surprised to learn that “just playing” is in fact what nearly all developmental psychologists, neuroscientists and education experts recommend for children up to age seven as the best way to nurture kids’ development and ready them for academic success later in life. Decades of research have demonstrated that their innate curiosity leads them to develop their social, emotional and physical skills independently, through exploration—that is, through play."
So why am I doing this to myself? Why am I jumping through all of the hoops that are a bachelor's degree in education when I'm doing my own research online and it's telling me not to structure the lives of small children with "school"?
The semester is over in two weeks, and obviously I'm more than a little stressed about all of the work that's required to be finished.
But aside from that, the question still remains. Why am I getting my bachelor's in education, anyway?
I'm passionate about teaching children, but honestly I feel deep down that my real life's mission will be raising my own children one day.
Because, first of all, I need to show others (including future parents and employers as well as those involved at the Montessori training school) that I am capable of diligent, professional research, reflection, and self-growth. Sure, I can tell them that verbally, even show them research I've done, say, on this blog. But in today's society, the only thing that really gets the message across, unfortunately, is a degree.
Second, because it IS teaching me. It's teaching me the WRONG way to go about education. A good way to know that I'm teaching the way I want to be teaching is by knowing that I'm NOT doing something I don't want to be doing. Plus, all of the experience is certainly good for me.
So, as stressed as I am, as much as I may feel that what I'm being asked to do is asinine and counter intuitive, I really just need to hold out a little longer. Graduation is in six months.