I know that I am ‘preaching to the converted’ here, because if you are reading this newsletter then you are already part of our Montessori education community, and we are among those privileged enough to have discovered the very best method of education in the world. Possibly the most pressing issue facing Montessori schools, however, is one of teacher supply. At every meeting of Montessori principals and boards, this is the primary topic of discussion. While we have an oversupply of teachers in NSW (except for high school Maths and Science teachers), we have a serious undersupply of Montessori trained teachers. When a Montessori teacher leaves a school, the school often falls immediately into crisis. It is very difficult to replace Montessori teachers or to find new teachers for new classrooms. More and more parents are discovering Montessori education. It can be very difficult to find a place in a Montessori school for your child, as schools are struggling to grow because they are unable to find more Montessori teachers to fill the new positions.
There are several reasons for this. Montessori teacher training is extensive and expensive. Teachers need to have their state-approved teaching degree and then complete Montessori teacher training on top of that. Montessori teacher training is either 1 year full time or up to 3 years part time. It costs up to $16,000 for which state funding is not available and the size of the cohort of students mean that the courses are not regularly available. At this stage, it is not possible to become an accredited teacher by doing just Montessori training.
Montessori teachers are often people who discover Montessori accidentally and then become so passionate about it that they continue on a rigorous course of study to become Montessori trained. However, this does not happen as often as we need it. Becoming a Montessori teacher is very hard work and then working as a Montessori teacher is even harder work. It is a path borne of passion for excellence in education. Therefore, as part of our mission to support Montessori education, our schools work hand in hand with universities and encourage student visits to Montessori environments in order to expose prospective teachers to the Montessori method; to plant the seed in their minds.
Today, as we do each year, we host a day for about 30 Master of Teaching students from the University of Sydney. I talk to them, I teach them about Maria Montessori and the incredible method that she has created and the principles and theory behind Montessori education. The students observe in the classrooms and then come together for discussion. We do this annually in the hope that down the track, some of these prospective teachers might remember, take on Montessori training and become one of our own.
Wish me luck!
Have a great week ahead!