The past two years have been the first since preschool that Jennifer has not been enrolled in school of some kind, and frankly, it's driving me crazy. I am obsessed with learning, which I happen to think is a good thing. I always want to be learning something new or at least exposing myself to new ideas. One could easily argue that the past two years without school enrollment have actually been overly full of learning in the practical sense: these have been the first two years of Ellie's life, and what a learning curve that continues to be! Despite this, I have had the bug to start an online course for a while now (there are several intriguing options through Open University), though the timing is still not right. With most of those courses starting in February with moderate to high intensity workloads, the timing coincides with the arrival of Baby 2, which doesn't seem so smart. Instead, I have opted for an online Montessori teacher training program that covers birth to age 3 (right up my alley these days!) with a workload of approximately 2-3 hours per week (no sweat). As a parent of (soon-to-be) 2 kids in this age group, I figured this course could at least provide me with some practical ideas to add to the home repertoire. Add that to the company bonus of partially-funded spouse education, and I submitted my order just before Christmas.
Last night was the first night I sat down with my materials and looked over my first assignment (due in March). The first assignment covers materials from the "Classroom Manual: birth to 3", "Infants: Manual A" and "Infants: Manual B". Before opening any of the manuals, I decided to read over the assignment itself to get an idea of where I was headed with this. Consider it an understatement when I say that I am gravely disappointed. The work consists of three parts (one per manual), and it is all tedious busywork questions. Judging to harshly? The first question is "What is the purpose of this manual?" The second is "Summarize the section entitled 'Introduction'." You have got to be kidding me. The questions for the first manual alone number 123. I decided to answer these crappy questions as I read, and only five pages into the manual, I was already on question 6. This is ridiculous. By the time I complete the assignment, I will have a document almost as long as the manuals, repeating everything the manuals said but this time "in my own words." Spare me. Maria Montessori would be HORRIFIED!
At the end of this (this assignment, plus two others...assuming I can stomach it), I will receive a teacher certification for Montessori: Birth to Age 3. No wonder there is such variation in quality among Montessori-labeled schools! Parents beware! Montessori preschools can be amazing havens for young children, and I cannot understate my enthusiasm for a quality Montessori program under age 5...but quality is the key word! Methinks it is not to be found in the certification program available on a distance program. Alas.
At least I have my new piano lessons to fall back on for intellectual stimulation. Learning as an adult is a challenge, not least because of finger dexterity issues. Thanks to an English major as an undergrad and then tons of work at grad school, my hands know their way around a keyboard...a computer keyboard. Just getting my thumb to behave itself on a piano and stay up where the other fingers are (rather than flopping around looking for the space bar) takes some re-training. Add in that I have no musical background (except my career as a kazoo specialist), and I have some big obstacles. I love every minute, of course! I'm already working on pieces using both hands (though my hands don't seem to agree yet) and the sight reading is improving slowly. I keep telling Markus that I will be playing the classics in no time...I just need to start by understanding how to read sheet music. Better go practice.