Thursday Bulletin

Message from Head of School
Thursday, September 24, 2020

Dear MMS Community,

I am so inspired by a subtle yet profound aspect of Montessori education: how intentional we are to encourage inner motivation in students and to not encourage adult approval dependency or to use praise to manipulate. Dr. Montessori noticed that our adult praise often interferes with a child or adolescent’s natural drive to explore, discover, and learn. As she wrote, "...no one who has ever done anything really great or successful has ever done it simply because they were attracted by what we call a 'reward' or by the fear of what we call a 'punishment.'” 

From classroom materials with built-in “control of error” allowing children to self-correct, to the ways teachers encourage students to dive deeply into their individual areas of interest, to the fact that we eschew external rewards like “student of the month” prizes,” the message is, keep your inner fire of curiosity burning brightly; live the life that is meaningful to you

This is so important, for research continues to show that praise often reduces long-term motivation, confidence, and creativity (see the work of Dr. Lillian Katz to learn more). The specific skill or behavior we praise loses its value in a child or student’s mind because they started off doing it for their own satisfaction. Further, excessive praise often cultivates an insecure, obsessive need for continual praise going forward. 

Montessori teachers are warm and their classrooms are joyous. When heartfelt praise is offered, though, it is not to coerce students, but rather to delight together.

Here are some ways this plays out in the classrooms and which can translate to ways we parent at home. Enjoy!Sam


Instead of the praise approach:

Try the observational/learning approach

l love your portrait!

Do you love your self-portrait? Tell me what you love about it.

I noticed you chose to include many different geometric shapes.

I am so proud of you!

You should be so proud of yourself!

Great job on the project

I see you were really concentrating on that project. What part was most challenging?

You were the best kid out  there

I watched your whole game/performance. You were making such happy expressions. You must have really been enjoying yourself. 

You have such beautiful  penmanship

I notice how hard you were working on writing that letter.

2020 - 2021 Thursday Bulletin Archive