Is Modern Montessori a Scam?

As part of my Montessori Mythbusters series, I went in search of recent Montessori criticisms. I cam across Fabrics and Fun, who have a new series on why she believes Modern Montessori is a Scam. Have a read – what do you think? Any valid points? Anything you would add or do you disagree entirely (and why)?

Montessori Mythbusters - Is Modern Montessori a Scam?

I will let you know my thoughts tomorrow and discuss any views shared with me here or on my facebook or twitter.

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23 thoughts on “Is Modern Montessori a Scam?

  1. Thanks for the link, I was hoping to read something insightful. I have to feel that the author is surrounded by unhappy peers. The mothers I know are not stressed or fretting. Montessori schooling is expensive in most cases but it’s on par with other private non-religious schools.

      • ‘Modern Montessori’, hmmm… with technology advancement, and different methodolgies for teaching children, Montessori method of child education has truely becom modern. i sometimes do feel that the true idea behind Montessori’s philosophy is to follow the child, and that is being diluted. the reasons for this could be many- parental pressures, the effort and dedication behind a montessori educator is also immense. i can see here in my hometown using the name Montessori and running simple kindergarted schools. all they do is keep a few sensorial materials and call it montessori. is montessori becoming teaching using didactic materials?

  2. There ARE a lot of Montessori schools for the rich (simply a product of being a private school), but there are also many, many Montessorians working in public schools, in small town country homes, and in the inner city ghettos. Not to mention all the Montessori homeschoolers. Let’s not exclude them from the conversation.

  3. Here’s the trouble with blogging. You’ll see rants from people in a negative place in life, who only google ideas and them blog on a soap box of inaccuracy.
    Best to ignore it.
    In fact, schools are everywhere in the USA in public sector and in cities and tough neighborhoods. It is a method, not a group of people. Parents need only ask if a school is a member or accredited by AMS or AMI to see if the Montessori name is used in avoid practice. Further questions or tours in a school will reveal that the teachers are vigorously trained. I hope those questioning a scam unplug long enough to see what is truly out there, not toys or elitism but child-centered environment surrounded by beauty, with the goal of teaching children to think for themselves instead of rote regurgitation.
    Go visit a school or homeschool co op, or contact AMI or AMS to see what where the truth falls.

    • Here’s the trouble with blogging. You’ll see rants from people in a negative place in life, who only google ideas and them blog on a soap box of inaccuracy.
      Best to ignore it.
      In fact, schools are everywhere in the USA in public sector and in cities and tough neighborhoods. It is a method, not a group of people. Parents need only ask if a school is a member or accredited by AMS or AMI to see if the Montessori name is used in good practice. Further questions or tours in a school will reveal that the teachers are vigorously trained. I hope those questioning a scam unplug long enough to see what is truly out there, not toys or elitism but child-centered environment surrounded by beauty, with the goal of teaching children to think for themselves instead of rote regurgitation.
      Go visit a school or homeschool co op, or contact AMI or AMS to see what where the truth falls.

  4. it is for rich parents only in USA, but not, f.e., in Sweden, where it does not differ how much you pay if you go to Montessori or other one 😉 and you can homeschool by Montessori on a tiny budget and what matters most is the attitude and environment, not the “toys”. looking forward to part 2 🙂

  5. This was really interesting! I think that there were some very valid points, and I think that there were some that showed an lack of understanding. I do think that it is ridiculous that so many school charge so much for what it is. No child ends up further ahead then the other by the time they reach high school. However, you are paying for the freedom of your child’s interest lead education that build a base for learning in the future if it is done right. Here is what I commented:

    Hi there! I just happened to find your post here and it is a very interesting position. I am a homeschooling mom who does use the Montessori method in my home. I bough all the materials, stressed about doing it right, and chose to do this because I just could not afford the $1000 a month to send my kids to the school. What I have learned over the past few years is that you need to take the Montessori method with a grain of salt. Maria Montessori lived over a 100 years ago and many of the resources that she had or didn’t have compared to today are very different. But I think that the learning pattern she discovered is essentially the same. Maria Montessori was a scientist by nature and she developed all of these “toys” by careful observation and as a tool to conduct her social experiment. There is value in their ability to isolate an experience for a child so that they may master the concept. However, I think that there are a million ways to do just that. I do personally think that if Maria were here today, she would be interested in researching other options for materials and learning. Her goal was to see what worked and discard what didn’t. In one of her books, she talks about her closet full of materials that didn’t work. So for me, the method is about following the child as they start to discover learning. If they want to spend 40 minutes pouring water, then that is fine. If they want to play memory match for an hour, that is fine too. The goal of the method is to allow the child the space to learn at their own pace. Sometimes that pace is fast, sometimes it is slow. My first grader can add, subtract, multiply, and divide 4 digit numbers in her head, but reading is a bit harder for her. My four year old is starting to read and loves it! My kids are not special or different, they just had a place where their interest were nurtured. I think that that is the main goal of the Montessori Method. Its not so much about the materials as it is about the space to learn. This can be done at home and in a school, and Maria Montessori is not the only person to use this concept as a means of education. Charlotte Mason has similar goals, as does Unschooling, and Reggio Emilia. In fact every basic preschool out there is heavily influenced and inspired by the Montessori method in their hands on, toy based learning. Just look around and you will see it. There may be many schools out there that are a scam or even fatally flawed, but the basic method holds value to any child anywhere~ a nurturing, environment where learning is an important and fun part of their lives.

  6. The one thing I agree with in this assessment is that montessori should be accessible for all regardless of whether they could afford it or not. That said, the realities of having a low student to teacher ratio is pricey in terms of wages and benefits and the public school system is not likely to fund it. Nor is it likely to get government funding as a private school when public schools are in need. That’s why it costs more.

    As for the stressing out about having the right gear. Let’s face it, those people are victims of consumerism and their own feelings of inadiquacy, not montessori. Whatever educational avenue they would pursue, they would still be concerned with having the right gear for something. There is always someone looking to make money off of any idea. You don’t actually have to pay it! Any enterprising parent with some craft savy and a near by dollarstore can make anything they need.

    Finally, a lot of montessori principles have been proven valid by recent neuroscience.

    I can understand that not all families can afford private schooling. Especially with multiple children. I can even understand not wanting to spend the money when public school is readily available. It’s too bad that some people have to put down other people’s choices in order to make themselves feel better about thier own.

  7. From the woman’s article, I took away that she thinks that Maria Montessori’s name is be being used inappropriately by schools that were/are not accredited. She does not address any factual information about the techniques, except to mention something about “having the right toys.” I will agree with her that there are schools that use the Montessori name, charge high $$$$, and do not in fact follow said techniques. I interviewed for a job at a Montessori school for a science teacher position. The school *was* accredited, did charge tons of $$, and from what I observed in my classroom sit ins, was NOT any sort of Montessori school. I was offered the job but it paid so far below other teaching jobs I had to turn it down.

    I don’t know many moms who do Montessori techniques at home, but it seems pretty useful and “popular” among certain circles of mothers, all of which seem pretty happy and not stressed lol.

    • I also noticed that she didn’t give any facts, and just ranted on and on without any clear point.

      Plus, Maria Montessori did not develop this system to teach poor kids how to cook. No. She observed the “disregarded” kids that were deemed unteachable in the hospital and noticed their need to explore the world by touching, smelling and with other senses. She noticed how that improved their learning abilities and applied it to all kids, even the privileged ones.

      Or did I read the wrong book and did my research wrong?

  8. Although l agree with the principles of Montessori and have adopted many in our household l do believe it has become fashionable. A simple google search will show the high costs of a simple table and chairs or a particular activity. Put the word “Montessori” in front of something and you will be paying three times the price. There isn’t one style of education that will make your child intelligent, happy, sporty or polite. It is the family unit as a whole. The time we put into teaching our children. Montessori isn’t “the answer” to everything but l think it has good basic principles – we just need to avoid the hype about it!!

  9. Ah, Jessie’s comment is great, but here’s what I had to say (copied and pasted from the original post):

    As a Montessori teacher, I agree largely with your closing statement and I’m (slowly) working on it! I know I’m not the only one, either. Those fighting hard to bring Montessori to the public sector are, too. I am deeply saddened by how inaccessible Montessori is to anyone outside the elite.

    I also agree that many who use the Montessori name are doing so selfishly, and for profit, but this does not mean all modern Montessori schools are insincere or a scam. Studies have shown the method to be successful. See: the work of Dr. Angeline Lillard, for one.

    Early childhood is a time for creating a foundation for our children and the early years are at least as important as the college years. I have the same issues with high cost and accessibility to higher education that I have with the same in most modern Montessori schools. The state of education in the present day is pretty flipping sad.
    Also, as a side note, the Montessori materials may look like little more than expensive toys, but there’s so much more to them. There’s also so much that parents can do at home without them. I, personally disagree strongly with the idea that parents need expensive Montessori materials to “do Montessori” at home.

  10. As someone who’s paid for an accredited Montessori school and now follows the same principals at home; I am disappointed to see someone blogging about this subject in such an uneducated manner.

    Where I live (southern CA) Montessori schools are actually cheaper than regular daycares or private schools. I mean, true accredited Montessori schools. My child was in daycare first and then moved to a Montessori toddler program after months of research and school visits. Not only was it cheaper by over $100 a month (for the more pricey one), but it was immensely more beneficial.

    Sometimes I really wish people would research before they open their soapbox. Google is a powerful tool to assist with the prevention of publicly announcing the lack of research. That is one blog I will not be adding to my ‘read list’.

  11. Very interesting post and comments! I couldn’t help thinking she must be talking about me! 🙂 I send my little guy (15 months) to a Montessori daycare part-time at a Montessori school and I’m on their board. It was a cheaper option than the other daycares nearby. I WISH I could stay home full time but I have huge student loans to pay off. Also, I like my job and it’s important to me. I hope one day my little will be proud of my work. Our public school system has several Montessori schools that you can apply for although I hear they are very popular and so difficulty to get into. I think it would be a good idea to have more of them. I’m still new to the Montessori methods and activities but so far they seem very cool and fun. I love making activities from recycled materials or stuff we would normally just throw away (i.e. putting Cheerios in egg cartons as counting game). It usually isn’t expensive. It allows me to keep him involved in whatever I’m doing and he loves helping and have responsibilities. It seems better than plopping him in front of the TV so that I can get something done, like clean the kitchen. I found that Montessori activities are cool ways to involve him in the process, which I would not have thought about otherwise. Sounds good to me!

  12. Hi Rachel,
    How interesting that you should post this close to my rant (a positive one) on Montessori. I agree with others that Montessori has become fashionable in some circles resulting in (like so many other baby/kid trendy stores) costly items that are most likely unnecessary in the home. However I would urge not only this parent but all people to critically look at the real dollar cost of education. Is there a difference between photo copied sheets and developmentally sequenced materials? I spoke about this on Kylie’s blog & so I don’t want to repeat myself too much but I implore anyone to visit a traditional publicly/government funded public school and a Montessori classroom on the same day. Look closely at the day of a child in each setting. Ask the same questions at each visit. The answers (and $$) will speak for themselves. Very loudly.

  13. Pingback: Montessori Mythbusters – My Say | Racheous

  14. Hi! I’m actually someone who is a “peer/friend” to the author of the original article and I use Montessori with my daughter and love it! It isn’t stressful for us…I’ve actually found it to be less stressful than other methods and it is a great fit for our family! I don’t think the author was criticizing all of Montessori…just making the point that the name is misused by some schools and companies nowadays -i.e. those that don’t actually adhere to what Montessori taught and just use the name – and that there is something “scammish” about that. I totally agree with her on that point! Alot of people nowadays are trying to complicate and commercialize Montessori, though…and that is very NOT Montessorian! I think that’s ultimately what she’s trying to convey…don’t be quick to judge her! I know she is a good mom who is extremely involved with and loving toward her boys, one of which has special needs.

    • I hope it’s known that I don’t judge the OP, nor her parenting. I think most of those who disagree with her posts agree with the fact that there is misuse of the term Montessori due to copyright and most agree that it can be overly expensive too.

      However, it’s the other generalisations, misinformation and criticisms that I don’t agree with. Although I don’t agree (as the OP said “different strokes for different folks and all that jazz”), that is not indicative of my thoughts on her character or mothering.

      Thank you for offering your point of view and commenting 🙂

  15. I can’t speak for every Montessori school but the one my son went to was definitely running a scam and i’m saying that from a completely qualified position. The Division of Consumer Protection fined them $5000 for two counts of violations of the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act for what they did to my family. They tried to pull a basic “bait and switch” by telling us what we wanted to hear to get us to a spot where they thought we couldn’t back out then threatening to expel my son if we didn’t pay extra. They considerably overvalued our desire to keep our son in their school when they gave us that ultimatum. They thought that the “montesorri method” gave them moral authority to force us to pay extra just because my son is disabled and they justified it by saying “The opportunities that we provide for the children at (x) have never been questioned up to this point in 14 years of service” (extracted from an official statement made by the director). Just cause you’ve been getting away with it for 14 years doesn’t mean you weren’t doing anything wrong.
    You may not not want to publish my comment, but if you don’t is it because i can bring more than just a criticism? i have actual proof, verified by a government regulatory agency, that at the very least this one Montessori school is running a scam.

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