We interview Bernhard Warsitz teacher at MOS München about the main characteristics of the educational project of the school based on the ideas of Maria Montessori. We talk with him about different topics. You can see the full transcription of the interview next:
Montessori teaching is an attitude
«First of all, the main difference is in our attitude. We choose a special attitude when we say we are teaching as a Montessori Teacher.
In the traditional way of teaching we have the picture of the child we want to have, so we have aims on how we can form the child.
In the Montessori way we think the child has his own aims in himself. So my role is to be someone giving a learning environment in which the child decides by himself/herself, “I want to go there or I want to go there”, I am not the one who decides for him/her.»
«As teachers we have a lot of freedom too»
«Freedom. I think the students (here) have a lot of freedom to choose when they work, which topic to take, which teacher they want to be closer to.
I as a teacher have 15 students, which I support over two years, I give them feedback, and if a students says «I cannot work together with you», we can change the group.
The other things is of course the staff, I mean people who are really interested in working together with young people. So they have a good connection. And of course we have structures.
Also I have a lot of freedom. I can choose how I work, which method I want to take, so the Montessori idea is not only the way we teach students but also how we are treated as teachers. We have as well a lot of freedom. So this is a very important point. Maria Montessori was very strict with her educators.»
Success is about what each of us has inside
«What does success mean? In german language it means ”Erfolg” which there is the word “to follow inside”, so for me it means to follow your fate, your talents, your opportunities.»
In the world of examinations homework make sense
«About homework, we have two worlds here.
One world is directed by the kind of the exams they (students) have to pass. In this world the homework make sense. They have to reproduce the knowledge because it does nothing to do with creation, with real learning, but of course they are going through these exams and so I have to act in this way as a teacher.
(In the other world) I give them opportunities so they can follow their interests, I mean I teach psychology, so it’s not difficult to get closer to their experiences, to their world. If I can manage that, learning is happening very easy.«
Teachers and the fear to give «freedom» to students
«I can understand that a teacher can have a problem with freedom. For example you prepare your lesson and then students say something that doesn’t fit in this planning, so «what can I do now?».
The danger is if I follow the students’ question I can lose my plan and what it’s coming after that. If I lose my plan I can feel that I don’t have competence and that is one big fear of a lot of teachers. I mean it’s true. Every student knows if the teacher is competent.
So, you must train it, you must really train it, you really have to work with the teachers and to give them a good strong self-worth for teaching.»
The important thing is not the mark itself but its context
«We have a kind of mark but it’s not a number, it’s a word, like you have deeper knowledge or your knowledge is basic, which has a meaning, you are not a number, but in the end of course it’s a mark.
More important is the context of these marks, they are in the context of learning so I don’t tell the students “you have basic knowledge”, no. I tell them “You are at the point of basic knowledge and I tell you how you can go deeper”. We give marks just to go on. It’s a total different meaning of marks than in the traditional school.»
Empathy to discover interests: the only thing that works
«We are human beings and everyone wants to be seeing by the others so every student in the class wants to be seen by the teacher.
It needs a lot of empathy. You have to invest time to understand the brain of each child. For a teacher the main challenge is to find the interest of students.
When I start a topic, I try to give them some ideas “What does this topic to do with yourself?”, in a personal way.
On the other hand “What does this topic to do with the world?”, so I have the personal meaning and I have the world meaning, and I try to give it at every topic at the beginning so they have the opportunity to identify with this topic so I want to open their brain.
Because the work of the brain is to delete knowledge. That’s the main work, it’s not to save knowledge, every brain always try to delete so I have to convince the brain that what we are talking about is really really important that you have to save that information.
The only thing is interest which works. With fear and marks, knowledge will never get deep into the brain.»