Category Archives: Educational Reform

Reading The Game of Thrones in Class: Should It Be Allowed

song of ice and fire coversWe’ve had a bit of controversy come up in the past month, as students have been selecting their winter term projects to complete. As you know, the Montessori philosophy is to allow our students to be strong forces in the shaping of their own educational path, with the core belief that when a student chooses to learn, the knowledge he gains will be more powerful and last him his entire life, whereas the student who is forced to learn merely crams for the next exam.

This is a sound philosophy, in principle, but in practice brings up details that can be difficult to maintain.

For their winter projects, 10th grade English students were asked to choose works with medieval themes. Historically, this has led from as varied choices as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to Shakespeare’s Macbeth to Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Quite the varied list of styles indeed.

This year, however, we had several students submit proposals of a different nature: for A Game of Thrones, the popular series by George RR Martiin.

What Is A Game of Thrones?

A Game of Thrones is the title of the first novel in George RR Martin’s medieval fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The books take place in the fictional island kingdom of Westeross, which certainly has allusions to the British medieval kingdom.

The books have enjoyed immense popularity since their inception, and two more are still pending publishing, for a total of 7 works. The novels have been popularized even further by the HBO series of the same name.

You can find the Game of Thrones books from www.georgerrmartin.com or download A Dance with Dragons audiobook, the latest work in the A Song of Ice and Fire audiobook series, from http://agameofthronesaudiobook.com.

Is This Appropriate?

If you’re familiar with the works, you know that there is a huge issue about whether these works are appropriate for a high school reader.

The issue, in our minds, isn’t that they aren’t considered part of the “traditional” literary canon (after all, how can a new novel be considered “traditional”?) but that they deal with a number of adult themes, and do so very vividly.

The novels contain everything from beheadings to incestuous relationships to rape to harems to torture, mind control, and sexual bigotry.

Are those messages we want to be sending our kids, or should we be teaching them how to respond to these aspects of life?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer, but we’ve decided to allow the submissions with written parent approval.

The Benefits of a Montessori Education

One of our primary missions here at SCV, in addition to providing resources to existing Montessori schools and teachers, is advocacy for the Montessori cause more generally.

We believe that there are too many drawbacks to our current system of education globally, and a better solution is required. This is particularly evident in the United States where, despite it being one of the “most developed” and “wealthiest” nations on the planet, students struggle to master basic educational concepts, particularly in the math and sciences.

While we encourage a healthy debate over any new or proposed system of education, we believe that the Montessori philosophy has a few distinct advantages over most other educational systems in practice today.

Advantages of a Montessori Curriculum

  1. montessori curriculumStudents are encouraged to self-asses. Self-assessment is one of the most important skills an individual can have. Under the Montessori system, students learn how to set goals and evaluate themselves against those goals, a process of thinking that will stay with them throughout their lives.
  2. Students must seek their own knowledge. While there is a clear curriculum and mandatory requirements in Montessori programs, students are empowered by having the flexibility to seek their own knowledge. They can pursue areas they are interested in, which leads to more interest in their education and a commitment to their own success.
  3. Independence within Community. Finally, students of the Montessori curriculum are encouraged to develop their own independence, while participating in the rest of the school community. That is, they learn to support themselves, but know there are other people and resources in place to help them get to where they want to go, both in education and in life.

These are just a few of the many benefits of leveraging a Montessori education, and we at SCV would absolutely love to see this philosophy and these benefits adapted in programs across the country.

Even incorporating just some of these elements can have the potential to radically transform the way our children learn, and the ability for us to enjoy a sustainable, happy, and self-actualized future.

Click here to learn more about Montessori from AMSHQ.