Measuring Montessori


There's a very interesting and relatively recent etymology to the importance of evaluations and tests in schools. At the turn of the century, the number one cause of death was infection. Children, of course, were highly prone to sickness and disease, which, to be sure, grossly affected development. Not knowing what we know today, about hygiene, genetics, contagion and disease, scientists were actively and aggressively looking for answers everywhere they could. Even in places that we would now consider to be misguided.

At this time, children were subjected to regular physical examinations at school, including measurements - or, what was, at the time, called a "biographical chart". Literally, entire classrooms were turned into scientific labratories. Which is to say, attempts were made to identify, record, and establish etiologies, especially as concerns familial histories. All efforts were placed on obtaining this information to better understand child development.

As Montessori explains, "The main part of the biographical charts consists of questions to be asked about the pupil's history, questions referring to the conditions of the family and to the physical development of the child specifically with regard to diseases, etc. This chart also includes an anthropological part, which guides the measurements we take to study the pupil from a morphological point of view."

In many respects, this method of data collection literally became a source for how to measure the physical growth of students. Subsequently, many of the same methods, tools and modes of observation became standard practice in measuring, comparing and establishing benchmarks on the academic side of things.

We wonder, to what extent these scientific forms of measurement are still in place? And, more importantly, what information is lost by these types of categorization of "growth"? One of the biggest challenges of the 21st century will be to find a way to adequately "measure" growing, instead of growth.

Happy, engaged and social

We talk a lot about academics, showcasing activites and exercises, writing about the benefits and outcomes. Yet, underlying all of this beautiful work, is a fundamental belief in the social component of learning. We like to say, social success leads to academic success, because if the child is happy, engaged and wants to learn, nothing can hold them back. Here's a perfect example: one of our three year old students took it upon himself to wash the dishes.

Now, from a certain perspective, there is definitely an "academic" side to this, i.e.: fine-motor skills, order, concentration, etc. However, there's also a guiding social component. Namely, there's a community behind those dishes. They weren't used by one single hungry student. Essentially they were used by an entire classroom. Knowing that we're in this together, this young student opted to wash the dishes for all of his friends, not just for himself. Imagine a form of education predicated on living and working together.

Full of Sugar


Last year, a week after his fifth birthday, one of our beautiful, energetic, charming students was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. With no family history, everyone was completely shocked. Instantly, everything was upturned. Despite it all, or perhaps because of everything, this family has been absolutely resilient in their efforts, not only to nourish, support and enrich their child's life, but also in their passion to work to educate the community on diabetes.

As a part of their efforts, the family has started a series of t-shirts called, The Super Sweet Tee. You can order them here: The back of the t-shirts read, "What's your number?", and they are using the creative hashtag #fullofsugar on Twitter. While the family has learned best practices and techniques to cope with diabetes, it'd come as no surprise to us if their persistence and resolve didn't lead to a break through in-itself.

Here's a little photo of two of our students, showing their support!

Meet Maria Gallagher

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We're very pleased to introduce you to our new aftercare teacher, Maria Gallagher. Maria is originally from Farmington, New Mexico. She's been in Sioux Falls for about fifteen years. She's currently studying at the University of Sioux Falls, majoriing in Psychology. After graduating with her Bacherlor's degree, Maria hopes to receive her Masters. As she likes to say, she thoroughly enjoys working with children...watching them learn and grow. "They never cease to amaze me!"