Forking Montessori

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Forking Montessori may be considered as a subset of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man[ic Deppressive] and Radical Transparency. It was originally conceived of by krozruch while he studied a course to become a Montessori teacher. Having already experienced some of the practices of Rudolf Steiner education and having by this time studied the Free and Open Source software movement, he was profoundly disappointed by the way that intellectual property and bureaucracy can lead to groupthink and dogma in education. The title involves a play on words, suggesting a curse, and also ironically borrowing a term, 'fork', used in software development to suggest a kicking against the system. The pieces relating to this time may be considered to be only ostensibly about Montessori, or even about education. In fact, they approach the general through the particular. Genuine free thinkers struggle in school whether as students or as teachers, and since we are taught how to behave towards others, and taught how to think in schools, they face the same struggles in all kinds of work and all kinds of contexts. As far as the author is concerned, the idiocy of bureaucratic life is replicated like a malevolent fractal across a multiplicity of the institutions of late capitalism. Forking Montessori, Rudolf Steiner, or other styles of education might be one way of improving the future by limiting the ways we stifle the creativity and curiosity of children, but it ought to be understood as a method of thinking and analysis which could be brought to bear on all closed and hidebound systems. It ought also to be remembered that this was only one form of Montessori in one school, and many of the problems were in the specifics of its implementation. The project ought also to be understood as a part of a greater whole, that is, A Portrait, and that a similar style of thinking and experiencing the world may be applied to a particular Rudolf Steiner community, other schools, and other places the author has worked. In each of these cases what is being strived for is an attempt to express an individual's experience of the world, not a diagnosis, still less a prescription. The reader, one would hope, may come to their own conclusions.


_Forking Montessori_ is a module of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man[ic Depressive], from the period that krozruch was working at a nominally Montessori school. This marked his second involvement with alternative education and he was sceptical from the off and increasingly irritated by the cultish elements and the bureaucracy, not to mention the poor grasp of science and even English grammar in the retro materials. The Montessori system in many ways pushed him further into an appreciation of the arguments of the free and open source software movement, the philosophy of which was, for him, much more generally relevant in a way that Aaron Swartz had recognised.

In this period, krozruch had little time to write. He began it single, at the end of a long period of struggles with interpersonal communication where he had been on his own the bulk of the time, and ended it in a relationship. These pieces, if they are ever developed, would attempt to show this development and the necessary changes that had to take place. These involved complicated issues of self-image and identity involving autism and ADHD, and were perhaps helped by book such as Neurotribes by Steve Silberman.

From Radical Transparency:

"A series of notes, for now, about the feeling of falling into a relationship, and falling in love, while working in the very specific, philosophically-demanding, environment of an 'alternative' school, about, that is, getting on the career ladder too late in a way, becoming a functioning human being just at the time that life had showed definitively that what this conventionally means is not the way forward; it's about shooting for the moon and about being changed so much. In many ways, it may be thought of as a La Horla in reverse but the name of the projected series it forms a part of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man[ic Depressive] gives away a little more context, of course.
These notes have caused me a lot of grief. I describe elsewhere the feeling of losing control, the moral dilemmas coming at me like the rails in front of Buster Keaton as he sits on the cowcatcher of an express train. But they remain here. I committed. If I eased off on writing such notes later, still, they could form a series of short stories taking apart my life and influences over this last, most pleasant, stretch of my life. I made my choice...
This is a matter of "publish and be damned" or it is nothing at all. I knew that when I was still thinking, at the beginning of this project, to commit to a radical educational alternative and a radically different, engagé, way of interacting with the world. It has been with me, this temptation, since at least Rainy Days and Mondays
I did not commit then, and a hundred times again. I committed to writing, ok, and that meant, perhaps, opting for solidity wherever I could find it. But was that the case this last time? I chose the financially steadier option and I had been struggling financially already, but I kicked against the course from the very beginning, and I knew it wouldn't be right for me. That was precisely why A Resolution died, why I never returned to it, because it was about making a commitment, about making no compromises, and it's pay-off could therefore only have been taking a job at the democratic school, though I'm still not sure that's exactly true since I did not trust them to get it off the ground and it was outside of Prague and could too easily have dragged my orbit out of Prague.
But then too, what is certain about my state of mind at the beginnings of this project is that, if I had a lot of certainties, so too was I scared, and had reason to be. Going back to the early diaries, it's clear that everything that went on at Gradgrind & Scabbard and with Mr Aspinal Whatever the truth of A Resolution"


The protagonist of Forking Montessori - probably at this time Christopher Rozruch, would crash out of Montessori education, physiologically incapable of adjusting himself to its methods. He would provoke an insurrection and leave to dedicate himself to writing in order to do what he could to combat the rise of fascism in the Trump age. In the final months of his time as a teacher, the school would become a microcosm of the kind of society we live in, with parents ganging up with one another to bully a child, others saying there ought to be "more surveillance" in the school and senior members of management dancing a jog when Trump had a significant success. The pressures on the teachers were preposterous. At the same time, the hero is spending time at a bitcoin hackerspace and getting increasingly disillusioned with it. There he feels more autistic and socially incompetent than he has for a significant period of time - certainly more so than he did at the school where by an large he was liked by his colleagues and certainly by parents and the children - and increasingly finds himself coming up against a selfish and aggressive worldview that he viscerally despises. It will from these people that he reads that we should be glad that teachers and firefighters get so little money because it means that there are any number of people who can do the job, that in the future there will be no room for social democrats (which begs the question what will be done with them), and that businesses should be free to discriminate.