Lillard Study


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Lillard Study

  1. 1. Tomorrow’s Child A Publication of The Montessori Fo u n d a t i o n Fall 2006 $8.00 Vol. 15 Number 1 Special Issue A Guided Tour of the Montessori Classroom Plus ... New Research Findings The Magazine for Montessori on Montessori vs. Families ‘Traditional’ Education In collaboration with the follow- ing Montessori organizations: & An Interview with Angeline Stoll Lillard
  2. 2. Following a synopsis of this study, which appeared in the September 29, 2006 issue of Science Magazine, TimSeldin, President of The Montessori Foundation, interviews Angeline Lillard, Ph.D. on the study’s implications for the future of “ Montessori and traditional education. Dr. Angeline Stoll Lillard has being tested, or the presence of a dis- dren at a public inner-city Montessori school ruptive class down the hall? with children who attended traditional clearly summarized the re- As a result, relatively few studies have schools, and found strong indication that search that explains why, been done on the effectiveness of Montessori education leads to children with Montessori education, even tough after a both better academic and social skills. This a fter 100 years, the Montes- hundred years the vast number of satisfied study appeared in the September 29, 2006 sori approach to education parents and successful graduates around issue of Science. You can read the entire arti- continues to be a phenome- the world has long served as anecdotal evi- cle on the Science magazine website dence that Montessori works. But was that Montessori educa- nal worldwide success.” because of Montessori, or because the tion is characterized by multi-age class- Tim Seldin, President, families who have chosen Montessori are rooms, a special set of educational materials, The Montessori Foundation; more concerned about their children’s ed- student-chosen work in long time blocks, a Chair, The International ucation, which might be likely to influence collaborative environment with student Montessori Council how well they would do in any school? mentors, absence of grades and tests, and We found it fascinating that one of the individual and small group instruction in ac- ducational research is not often few examples of educational research to be ademic and social skills. More than 5,000 taken seriously by scientists. published in the prestigious journal schools in the United States, including 300 Citing the difficulty of controlling Science compared the outcomes of chil- public schools, use the Montessori Method. experimental variables in school set- tings, most of the studies done thus far are not considered rigorous enough in A Bright Spot for City's Schools: their design, nor statistically significant, Montessori students outperform traditionally taught stu- to qualify for inclusion with studies dents academically and socially, report finds done in the hard sciences. After all, how do we know what influenced the out- come: the background of the children, Headline, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the teacher’s preparation, the program September 28, 2006 ©Tomorrow’s Child Magazine Fall 2006 • 9
  3. 3. Study Indicates that Montessori Education Provides Better An Interview Outcomes than Traditional Methods with Angeline A study comparing outcomes of children at a public inner-city Montessori Stoll Lillard, Ph.D school with children who attended traditional schools indicates that Montessori education leads to children with better social and academic Author of Montessori: skills. The Science Behind the Headline, Medical News Today, Genius October 2, 2006 The Montessori school studied is locat- indicator of future school and life success. Conducted by ed in Milwaukee and serves urban minority Montessori children also displayed bet- Tim Seldin, President, children. Students at the school were se- ter abilities on the social and behavioral lected for enrollment through a random tests, demonstrating a greater sense of jus- The Montessori lottery process. Those students who ‘won’ tice and fairness. And on the playground Foundation the lottery and enrolled at the Montessori they were much more likely to engage in school made up the study group. A control emotionally positive play with peers, and group was made up of children who had less likely to engage in rough play. October 2, 2006 ‘lost’ the lottery and were therefore en- Among the twelve-year-olds from both Seldin: I don’t know what you are rolled in other schools using traditional groups, the Montessori children, in cogni- hearing at your end, but there methods. In both cases the parents had tive and academic measures, produced es- seems to be a quite a stir on the entered their children in the school lottery says that were rated as "significantly more internet about the article in Science with the hope of gaining enrollment in the creative and as using significantly more so- Magazine. I saw that Fox and UPS Montessori school. phisticated sentence structures." The are running stories that apparently “This strategy addressed the concern Montessori and non-Montessori students are being picked up by other media. that parents who seek to enroll their chil- scored similarly on spelling, punctuation There was a particularly nice article dren in a Montessori school are different and grammar, and there was not much dif- in the Milwaukee Journal Dis- from parents who do not,” wrote study au- ference in academic skills related to read- patcher that offered their local per- thors Angeline Lillard, a University of ing and math. This parity occurred despite spective. [Editor’s Note: The study Virginia professor of psychology, and the Montessori children not being regular- was done in the Milwaukee Public Nicole Else-Quest, a former graduate stu- ly tested and graded. School System.] dent in psychology at the University of In social and behavioral measures, Wisconsin. This was an important factor twelve-year-old Montessori students were Lillard: There has been quite a bit of press in because parents generally are the domi- more likely to choose “positive assertive Europe and other countries, but, in the United nant influence on child outcomes. responses” for dealing with unpleasant so- States, the story has received mainly science Children were evaluated at the end of cial situations, such as having someone cut and medical press coverage. It is interesting to the two most widely implemented levels of into a line. They also indicated a "greater me that the media has not been as interested Montessori education: primary (three- to sense of community" at their school and in the information as the other countries. I’ve six-year-olds) and elementary (six- to felt that students there respected, helped received emails from people in Germany say- twelve-year-olds). They came from families and cared about each other. ing it’s all over the newspapers there. of very similar income levels (averaging The authors concluded that, “when from $20,000 to $50,000 per year for both strictly implemented, Montessori educa- Seldin: Yes, I’ve been watching for The New groups). tion fosters social and academic skills that York Times to even mention it. How is it possi- The children who attended the are equal or superior to those fostered by a ble that this story gathered so much attention Montessori school, and the children who pool of other types of schools.” around the world but is being largely ignored did not, were tested for their cognitive and Lillard plans to continue the research here in America? academic skills, and for their social and be- by tracking the students from both groups havioral skills. over a longer period of time to determine Lillard: It seems that it isn’t being seen as “We found significant advantages for l o n g - t e rmeffects of Montessori versus tra- much in newspapers as online. There were the Montessori students in these tests for ditional education. She also would like to articles in several Saturday papers such as the both age groups,” Lillard said. “Particularly replicate the study at other Montessori and Triple S News Service, Science News, and remarkable are the positive social effects of traditional schools using a prospective de- some others. The difference in response is Montessori education. Typically the home sign, and to examine whether specific interesting. There is clearly more attention environment overwhelms all other influ- Montessori practices are linked to specific being paid to this in Europe than here in the ences in that area.” outcomes. United States! Among the 5-year-olds, Montessori stu- dents proved to be significantly better pre- Angeline Lillard is the author of Montessori: Seldin: A fascinating essay came out in the pared for elementary school in reading The Science Behind the Genius. More infor- London Times this morning that spun off the and math skills than the non-Montessori mation is available at: http://www.montessori- results of your study to explore the negative children. They also tested better on "exec- For a copy of the study in the jour- effects that high pressure education is having utive function," the ability to adapt to nal Science, call 1-202-326-6440, or email in Great Britain and why this study is further changing and more complex problems, an Angeline Lillard: 10 ©Tomorrow’s Child Magazine Fall 2006 •
  4. 4. evidence of why this ‘hot house’ Montessori program at Lillard: The school has been in operation since approach is a bad idea. It even age three through a 1996. suggests that the most famous lottery, it is possible to English prep schools, such as study the academic and Seldin: You describe Craig Montessori as offer- Eton, are not working as well as social development of ing a more strict implementation (of Montessori). people would like to think. children who won For the sake of our parent readers, could you admission and those briefly summarize what makes it a more ‘strict,’ Lillard: I haven’t seen it yet. who did not and went or ‘authentic,’ version of Montessori? on to other (non- Seldin: Moving on to your Montessori) programs Lillard: Here’s the criteria I used. I looked for research, is there anything that within the school sys- a Montessori school, recognized by AMI you want to add that was not cov- tem. It is finally possi- (Association Montessori Internationale), which ered in the Science journal or in the release ble to compare statistically similar popula- receives an AMI onsite consultation every several that the University of Virginia issued about tions to see whether those children who years. I also looked for a program that goes along how you structured the study and what you attended Montessori programs perform dif- with the typical three-year age grouping, the found? ferently from those who did not.] three-hour (uninterrupted) work period, pro- vides the (full complement of) Montessori work Lillard: One element that I feel is particu- Seldin: Why did you pick the Milwaukee materials, employs very well-trained teachers, larly important, one that lay people have a public school (Craig Montessori) to do your and has a larger class size with fewer adults in the hard time understanding, is the importance study? classroom. of using a lottery-looser control group. I’m hearing a lot from teachers saying, “At our Lillard: I had two criteria. One was that Seldin: I assume by a larger class size, you Montessori school, too, the children perform there be a lottery (to determine randomly mean the traditional Montessori group size of higher on standardized tests than at other which children would be admitted) and that twenty-five to thirty children? schools around.” But for scientists, this lot- the school had the same demands of the chil- tery-looser control group is crucial (to give dren that lost the lottery. I only knew of two Lillard: Yes. the study scientific validity), because other- places doing that: Craig Montessori and one wise it could just be the parents making the other that hadn’t been in operation for as Seldin: And are the classes guided by a teacher difference and not the schools at all. long. and an aide? Second, I wanted an implementation of [Editor’s Note: For as long as studies have Montessori that was more to the traditional end, Lillard: In the kindergarten classroom, there is been done about Montessori, critics have thinking that would be the right place to start, giv- a teacher and an aide, and in the elementary challenged that, because Montessori pro- en what my book (Montessori: The Science classroom, there is a teacher. grams are always found in either private Behind The Genius, Oxford University Press, 2005) schools, where parents have to choose the was about in terms of research (in child develop- Seldin: I have not yet had a chance to visit the program and pay tuition, or in magnet or charter public schools, where parents again ment, corresponding to the more traditional im- Milwaukee Montessori project. Have the children have to choose, that perhaps those parents plementation of the Montessori approach). who are in the five-year old kindergarten pro- who make such choices are more concerned Given that, in general, we in psychology find gram, had any previous Montessori experience? about their children’s education, and that it that very little makes a difference to child out- is their interest and commitment that makes comes above and beyond the parents, genes, and Lillard: They had all been in Montessori since the difference, and not the Montessori the home environment, I thought that we should they were three. The age group was made up of approach itself.] start with a stricter implementation, giving three-, four-, and five-year-olds. There were a few Montessori the best chance it could have of mak- that had entered when they were two, but in gen- Seldin: Absolutely, that is a very important ing a difference. eral they entered at three. point. Can you expand on this a little more for our readers? Seldin: Angeline, how long has the Seldin: And is that a school-wide policy or is Milwaukee project been going on? that simply the subgroup that you selected? Lillard: If one sees a difference between the performance of children at a particular Montessori school and some other school in Montessori Teaching 'Better than Traditional Schooling' the community, it may well be, for example, that the parents who are more organized and orderly in their homes, prefer Montessori “The century-old Montessori education method is more successful than tradi- environments because they are more orderly tional teaching methods, according to research published today. and organized. Perhaps their children’s suc- cess may simply be due to this home effect, rather than the effect of the school effect. The study, which attempts to put education on a scientific basis by comparing chil- dren at a private inner-city Montessori school with those who attended traditional [Editor’s Note: As Dr. Lillard explains further schools, suggests that Montessori education equips children with better social and in this interview, in public Montessori academic skills.” schools, the economic ability to afford private school tuition is no longer a concern for research purposes. In those school systems, Headline, The London Telegraph, where children gain admission to the public September 29, 2006 ©Tomorrow’s Child Magazine Fall 2006 • 11
  5. 5. Lillard: No, that’s school-wide. There is a lot- more school children than any other city in the I also used Word Attack.™ The purpose of using tery for the spaces that are open for that age group country, and parents get a catalogue that’s a Word attack is because it is a test of pure phonet- of children. I know that their policy is that they good half-inch thick of all of the public school ic decoding, so you know if a child is correct in how will take children into the school later, if they have programs available to their children. Every year they read one of the words. It is not simply that been at an AMS or AMI Montessori school. But in in November, they can apply, stating their first- they recognize the word and they’ve memorized this particular sample of parents, who agreed to choice school for each child. The schools deter- what that configuration of ‘scribbly’ lines on a piece participate, children had been in Craig since age mine how many new places they have for each of paper represent; rather they really understand two or three. age level, and children’s names are entered in a the phonemic relationship to the written symbol. lottery. If they win, that’s where they go, unless So in Letter-Word ID,™ for example, we actu- Seldin: Do the parents of the three- and four- the parents decide that the school won’t work for ally skipped the ones that were just letters, on the year-olds pay private school tuition? them, or they move. grounds that what is correct in the Woodcock- Johnson is to say pee and eee and b e e, and we Lillard: No, the school starts at three. It is a Seldin: When did you and your colleague, knew Montessori children would say puh and eh public school, but it starts at three. Nicole Else-Quest, begin the study, and how long and buh, so we just scratched that and started with did it take you to gather your data? words. So words like car and arm, and dog, for ex- Seldin: That in itself is newsworthy. I hadn’t ample, and goes up to twelve- year-olds with words realized that. Lillard: Nichole was a graduate student at the like bouquet, significant, provincial and word of University of Wisconsin, and I wanted somebody that nature. Word Attack™ is just nonsense pho- Lillard: I believe it’s the case among all the onsite. She helped set up the study and select the netic words. Those were the basic reading tasks. public Montessori programs in Milwaukee. While data. I started in April of 2005. I began to look for The five-year-olds did significantly better, and the the Milwaukee school district is public, and the funding and contacted the school. We sent letters twelve-year-olds were about the same. Montessori programs need to use the state exams, to parents in early September of that year. The For Math we had problems where they were they are very supportive. For example, the schools funding came through over the summer. We shown pictures of five objects and they were asked have to receive all the textbooks used by the other things like, ‘if two were taken away, how many schools, but then they are allowed to turn them would there be?’ Here again the five-years-olds back in to purchase more Montessori materials. The New York Times in Montessori did significantly better. So when I was there visiting in the fall, and there Then for vocabulary, we had them look at pic- were just stacks of textbooks the teachers could Conspicuous Silence tures and tell us what they represent. Vocabulary not wait to return. tends to be very influenced by the home environ- ment, so I didn’t expect, or necessarily want, there [Editor’s Note: The Milwaukee Public Schools have started testing in mid-October and went on into to be a difference between the two groups, because six schools offering authentic Montessori programs late May. We were still picking up some loose you always want a test where there is no significant from age three through grade twelve. Their high ends as the year ended. We entered the data and difference; you always want to show that it s not school, Marshall Montessori IB High School, offers a published over the summer. the general intelligence of one group that is high- Montessori secondary program built around the er. International Baccalaureate Program. http:// Seldin: Did you use the standardized tests that Likewise, in the cognitive measures, I looked] are used in Milwaukee, or something you select- at concept formation, where children have to look ed? at shapes and say which one doesn’t belong to a Seldin: I would like to do a story on them for group. We also tested them on spatial relations, Tomorrow’s Child. You’ll probably recall that The Lillard: I selected all of the tests. I thought it where children have to break down a complex Montessori Foundation and our membership would be good to start with a group of tests that shape into its component parts. Those showed no organization, The International Montessori are used by other researchers. In the 1980s, difference at either age. Council, promote authentic Montessori practice, there was a large study of children in daycare We also did an understanding directions test, even though we welcome all Montessori schools, centers that followed children prenatally over where children have to listen to directions on a regardless of their affiliation or how adapted their many years. I think there were 12 to 20 original tape recorder that tells them to point to a certain practice may be today. researchers, who chose a battery of tests to give thing. For instance, in a picture of a farm scene, We always like to tell stories about schools that are children to see whether daycare has any influ- they are asked to point to the brown cow, or the doing Montessori well. Our argument is that authen- ence on child outcomes. I guess the oldest are bird in the tree, as opposed to a different bird, and tic Montessori produces far better results and more 16 –17 now. In the beginning, it was every few so on. From there, the directions get increasingly committed students and families than modified ver- months, and now it’s every year or two. I started more complex. The five-year olds scored six months sions that attempt to downplay their Montessori prac- with tests that they used with children of our higher at the Montessori schools than the non- tice to make the average parent more comfortable. selected age group. For example, we used the Montessori schools. This was not significant sta- Montessori is not for everyone, and when we call a Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Test and the tistically, but it is interesting to me. Its not signifi- school ‘Montessori’ it ought to mean something spe- Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities. cant, because of the variance. cific that a parent can choose, or not choose, based on This is the standardized test battery that is often Then, I wanted a test of executive function, be- dependable information used to assess children with learning disabilities. cause it is well known to be related to grades later. I chose tests that I thought would be important to I actually chose two of those. One was a delayed- Lillard: The Milwaukee public Montessori life. I didn’t choose tests that would particularly be in- gratification test, where children were shown two schools have been there since the mid 70s. My fluenced in one way or another by Montessori or by plates of snacks. One had just a few snacks, and sense is that they are operating on the same budg- other schools. I chose tests that measured skills that the other one has a lot more. You sort of play a wait- et as any of the other schools. One of their biggest I thought would be important to have. For example, ing game. If they can wait until you come back, expenses is busing, because they do bus children I thought it was important to measure reading and they can have the big plate, but if they want you from all over, and Milwaukee has this very elabo- math skills, because they are important for school rate system, as I understand it. Milwaukee has and beyond. For that I used the Letter-wWord ID and Interview continued on p. 65 12 ©Tomorrow’s Child Magazine Fall 2006 •
  6. 6. Interview continued from page 12 chance; whereas, the non-Montessori were at rors, number of words in the essay, which is all that chance, and this is a big difference. You don’t nec- NICHD had done. We also looked at sentence com- to come back sooner, they can ring a bell, and you essarily walk into a situation expecting it to be dif- plexity and the creativity of the story, and we found come back and they can have the smaller plate. ferent. My thinking is that children come to process that, although the punctuation, grammar, and So you look at how long children can wait . There’s this task through discussions and negotiations. For spelling was rated to be the same between the two a ceiling of fifteen minutes. Here again, the example, in families where parents talk to children groups, the Montessori children were using signif- Montessori children were able to wait a minute and more about mental states, children tend to un- icantly more complex sentence structures, such as forty seconds longer on average then the other group. derstand this earlier. Also, children in larger fam- embedded clauses, and those are harder to punc- But because of that fifteen minute ceiling, it’s not ilies, and children with older siblings, tend to talk tuate. Another finding was that the stories written by significant. We’re actually re-running the experi- earlier. So my sense is this is that this outcome is the Montessori children were rated as being more ment now with a different group, and this time we’re because of the interaction that goes on in creative than the others. And, again, these are read- trying to tempt them a little bit more. We’re giving Montessori classrooms, and the discussion of men- ings when you don’t know the author. them cues, like “Mmmmmm that big plate looks tal states. good!” We’re also using M & Ms,™ (Dr. Lillard Likewise, there was a social problem-solving Seldin: Angeline, having grown up with a laughs) even though they didn’t want us to use can- task, where children were read five different vi- famous Montessori educator for a mother dy. gnettes. In the three most interesting stories, there (Paula Polk Lillard), did you ever think that you The second Executive Function task is the Card was a child who was hogging a resource, like a would end up playing a role that seems to be Sort task that’s the standard in the literature. Based swing, where the child just wouldn’t get off, in the helping Montessori gain wider recognition and on a test called the ‘Wisconsin Card Sort’ in adults, story. The children being tested were asked what acceptance around the world? the child’s version uses different boxes to sort ob- should this other child in the story do or say to get jects/cards that vary in two dimensions; color and this child to share the swing? For each of the three Lillard: No it’s been completely accidental. shapes. For example there are cards showing red different stories ,we had three different responses. In my career, I’ve always looked for holes to fill. stars and blue stars, or red cars and blue cars. I’m in psychological research, and in First, they are told that they are going to sort by The Montessori children significantly Montessori, I keep thinking that there has been color, and that they should put all the red stars in more often used what, in developmental a gap in terms of the relationship between what this box, and all the blue stars here. And then you research, is consider to be a higher level research shows and how Montessori is consis- say, “Now we’re going to switch and sort by shapes. of reasoning than the non-Montessori tent with this knowledge, and the lack of aware- So we’re going to put all the star cards in here, and children. They would say something that ness of that relationship. Filling in that gap led all the car shapes here.” This is one task that is made reference to fairness or justice, to my last book (Montessori: The Science difficult for children of three, but by age five, most such as “you need to share,” or “it’s my Behind the Genius). children are pretty good at it. turn now.” This response reflects an Then you do a very hard case. You might say, understanding that there are resources Lillard: So, now let’s look at social problem “OK now we’re going to sort the cards by their col- that need to be equitably distributed solving. The Montessori twelve-year-olds gave or when they have a border, and when they don’t amongst us. significantly more positive ways to solve prob- have a border, sort them by their shape.” A lot of lems. An example from was telling them this children fall apart on this. Then, when we watched children on the play- story: There were significant differences on this test, ground. Nicole Else-Quest, the co author and an- because some of the non-Montessori children did- At lunch one day you’re looking for a place other student she hired, went to the school play- to sit. You walk up over to a table with one n’t make it through the first two phases, and sever- grounds, and each moment coded what the focal empty seat left. Just as you are about to sit al of the Montessori children were able to sort more child was engaged in. We extrapolated the data so down, another kid comes over and says, “I than a chance number of the border cards correctly. it was equal to a twenty-minute period for each want this seat.” Then the kid sits down in your So that shows executive control, and it’s a really hard child. spot. What would you do if this happened to test to hold the two rules in your and mind and sort We found two interesting things. One was that you? correctly.So it’s not that all of the Montessori chil- Montessori children were significantly more like- dren had no trouble with that, but, enough of them ly to be engaged in share-positive peer play. That The choices are: did well enough to show that there was a significant means they are playing with one or more other difference. children and are having a positive experience (smil- I could sit somewhere else. (This is a Passive Then I did a false-belief test just for fun, because ing happy situations). The non Montessori chil- response.) I’m a researcher in theory of mind. I have to put in dren were significantly more likely to be engaged I could tell the kid “I was here first. Would you a false-belief test because it’s a classic measure in in what we call ‘ambiguous rough and tumble play,’ please move.” (That’s a positive-assertive re- the field. This test recognizes that we all operate in chasing or wrestling without any smiling. You can’t sponse) the world based on how we see the world, rather really tell if they are having fun or just being ag- than how the world actually is; that everyone has gressive. So I think I’ve covered the most signifi- I would tell the other kids in the class not to their own perspective upon which they operate. play with the kid any more (That’s a passive cant observations in the five-year-olds differences. -aggressive response) So the children watched a little vignette, where Among the twelve- year-olds, one of the meas- a little boy named Maxi put his chocolate candy in ures twas from the NICHD study. We had them Or, I’d push the kid out of the seat (That’s ag- a cupboard before he went out to play. While he is complete a narrative that begins with: “So and so gressive.) You would be surprised at how out playing, his mother comes in and moves the has either the best day, or the worst day, ever at many kids picked that response. chocolate from the cupboard to a drawer. The chil- school.” The child gets to choose a character and dren are asked, “When Maxi comes back in, where then decides whether it’s the best or the worst day Montessori children were significantly more is he going to look? Is he going to look in the cup- and gets to write for five minutes. So we took these likely to pick the positive-assertive response. So board where he left it, or in the drawer where it is essays and typed them into a computer with no they would say, “Would you please move.” now?” codes (names) attached. They were coded for var- The Montessori children, 80 percent of the time, ious features. We went through them and marked passed this task, which is significantly better than punctuation errors, grammar errors, spelling er- Interview continued on p. 66 65
  7. 7. Interview continued from page 65 been a chance that any random sample would have The main thing will be getting teachers inter- had higher test scores by chance, but when you ested in filling out the surveys. We will also need What also fits with this is the ‘Feelings About get up to twenty-five or thirty, for the purposes of to have people who could go to their schools to School Survey.’ This is a survey in which children research, it is considered to be a respectable num- have parents’ give permission. And, of course, are asked to circle the answer, indicating much ber. The fact that we are seeing the same results there would be the actual testing, taking the chil- they agree or disagree with a statement. There across several different groups and different class- dren aside. In this last study, we were doing this were eight questions with five possible choices es adds to the scientific validity. in two half-hour sessions. We may be able to cut ranging in from ‘agree a lot’ to ‘disagree a lot.” this down to be a little bit shorter Some of the questions were like these: Seldin: I also found it interesting that the same critic added that there is no evidence Seldin: The people who would go out to the 1. In my class, students really that one form of education is superior to any schools and would actually gather the testing care about each other. other. data, if I’ve heard you correctly, what you’re envisioning we could train to a specific stan- 2. Students in my class are will- Lillard: That seems like a very grand state- dard a group of people that are not necessar- ing to go out of their way to ment, and I would hesitate to make it. What I ily connected to a school of psychology help some one. would say is that this study is not evaluating 3. Students in my class treat Lillard: Right, for example, the NICHD Montessori against any other particular form each other with respect studied used twelve hundred children from of education. These children were from a 4. People care about each other wide variety of schools. They were mostly pub- all over the US in eight focal sites, and had in the school and so on. lic schools; some were at private vouchers different researchers trained at each site who schools, public and parochial. Milwaukee would go out and collect the data. They did The Montessori children were much more offered tremendous range of choices: lan- this over the years. There were even different likely to agree with the positive thinking, so guage immersion schools; some specializing people from one year to the next. There were they had a significantly higher score on this. in the arts; others with an environmental specific training manuals so that people were This corresponds with other studies showing focus; discovery-learning programs. It’s not administering the tests in the same way. that Montessori children in middle school Montessori versus any one particular type of were significantly more likely to say that their school. It is just that the control group did not Seldin:: I was thinking more about the peo- classmates are their friends. win the lottery for admission to the ple who would come and do the looking at Montessori program, thus their parents chose the classroom Seldin: You stress that the two groups of another, non-Montessori program for them children were very similar. I gather we are from among many alternatives. Lillard: I haven’t decided if I’m going to talking about a socio-economically and eth- put in any classroom observations because nically diverse population in both the control Seldin: I had the impression that the edu- then you have another layer of complication group and the Montessori group. cational research specialist, who raised these because then you have to train the observers objections, might have had some sort of agen- to look at the same thing as well. The key Lillard: Yes, there’s actually a large minor- da or predisposition. thing is to find people having someone go to ity sample represented in this school district, the children. To look at the child outcomes. as well as in the Montessori school, and the Lillard: There are some people, who seem That would be very helpful. My goodness, I income levels in the groups averaged in the to have a lot to protect. There’s also the fact just saw the time. I’m afraid that I have to go. $20 -$50K category. So they’re roughly the that sometimes people have had bad experi- same in that way, and the children were the ences with Montessori schools that weren’t Seldin: Well, as always, thank you for shar- exact same ages in those samples. necessarily practicing good Montessori. They ing your work with us. Let us know when you may have drawn a conclusion about are ready to start this next project. Seldin: As I recall, someone with the Montessori programs, based on one or two National Institute on Educational Research poor examples. They can also draw conclu- questioned the importance of your study sions based on not understanding what it’s all because the data sample between the two about. groups was very small. If you’d like to Seldin: Your mom once said to me that, in read more of Lillard:: I found that to be interesting. her experience, in many Montessori schools Angeline Stoll There are lots of studies in education that use there is so much desire to reshape Montessori samples of a thousand students that do not into their own image and too little focus on Lillard’s work, her use a control group, so they would never be the actual work of Dr. Maria Montessori: what book Montessori: accepted for publication in a scientific jour- she wrote, said, and did. nal, such as Science. This study was accept- The Science ed because it was thought to be scientifically Lillard: And, of course, Montessori is based Behind the Genius valid. The size of the control group is not on scientific evidence. For example, I believe is available through something that any of the four reviewers or that the argument that is out there about the the editor of Science wrote in their reviews in The Montessori best way to implement Montessori should be response to my work. They didn’t think it was answered with research. That is the next proj- Foundation’s Online a concern. ect that I am working on. I will ask teachers to Bookshelf I think given the control group here, the crit- fill out questionnaires about their classroom icism is misguided. Perhaps, if we had only had practices, and then look at child outcomes in ( or by eight children in each group, there would have relationship to those different practices. calling 800-632-4121. 66 ©Tomorrow’s Child Magazine Fall 2006 •