"I find this article extremely interesting. I sent my children to a Montessori School, fortunately, once they were placed in a Catholic school they began to excel. With the exception of preschool, a significant amount of material was added to the Montessori classrooms to assure the children would score in a decent manner on standardized testing. I was also a CGS teacher for 7 years and I could see the same problem areas in both the Montessori classroom and CGS since the GS program is based on the
Montessori Method. Sofia Cavalletti references Montessori and her method throughout her books.
The writer of the article comments on the “orthodoxy of those who train.” In my opinion as a solid Catholic, a program is lacking in orthodoxy when the second grade sacramental year is void of teachings on mortal and venial sin, 10 Commandments, The Blessed Trinity, and original sin, all of which are foundational Catholic teachings. We also believe Catholic teaching does not change so why didn’t Cavalletti, the founder of the program, create one standard set of album pages which ALL teachers receive when attending training sessions. At my church, there were significant variations in other people's album pages from mine who did not train the same time as I did and had a different trainer. A program lacks orthodoxy when there is inconsistency in teaching material from teacher to teacher.
Also, the cost and time of assembling and preparing by hand the material used in the atrium are tremendous. Orthodoxy is the adherence to the teachings of the faith. Almost every year the CGS sent our DRE a disk of material used in our room that needed to be updated before the next year. Our Catholic faith does not change so the CGS program should have produced nearly perfect material to be used at the inception of the program without frequent changes.
The GS teaching method lacks orthodoxy when a teacher does not teach and resorts to asking pondering questions while waiting for the child to figure it out the answer on their own as stated from GS 32 Points of Reflection. In the V2 document De Veritate, states “Nobody can be said to be his own teacher or teach himself.” The end of education is not having an experience of Christ, but to have a knowledge of revealed truths. The teaching method of GS is a significant problem in this area. Br. Allen, you are not “shamefully unaware of this program” but accurately identify the 32 Points of Reflection as Theosophical ideas. There is no need to visit an atrium, the books alone with your knowledge of Catholic theology is enough to identify the program’s errors.
Looking at the CGS conference speaker Sr Gibber, her yin and yang necklace appears unorthodox to Catholic teaching, I can only imagine the content of her talk. Implementing hands-on Buddhism and Islam to a Catholic religion class also appears to lack orthodoxy. In my opinion, the writer has clearly made his point that the program's orthodoxy is questionable.
One thing the writer did not mention in the articles is Montessori’s teaching on Cosmic education which permeates the Montessori classroom and is present on the CGS timeline. There are many conservative Catholic families who would object to theistic evolution being exclusively taught to their children in a Catholic religion class and have no clue it is taught to their children in the CGS.
I spent a little time researching the Montessori /Theosophy connection tonight and it’s a bit frightening. Unfortunately, it was easy to find Theosophical websites claiming Maria Montessori as one of their own.
Believe it or not, there are many people who share in the opinion that the CGS program is lacking in solid Catholic content. Over the years I added Catholic teachings missing in the children's work. There are many good online videos of people who have created missing Catholic material while adapting the Montessori style, which can be duplicated and used in your atrium.“That Resource Site” contains wonderful material to teach the Trinity, creation, and the Sacraments which include solid Catholic teaching and at the same time maintains a Montessori look.
A person wrote in the comment box “Br Allen, prepare to be crucified!”, and they are correct. At my Church, the catechists were enamored with Montessori’s/CGS hands-on material but were not concerned if a third grader was unable to identify a photo of the Blessed Trinity let alone name the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.
Teachers in Level 3 complained the children attending their class for Level 2 did not retain what they learned. CGS does not test when information is not committed to memory through testing, the information is not retained.
Last year our new priest was aghast at how ill-prepared the children were for First Reconciliation using the CGS method. He required a supplemental Catholic religion book to be used throughout the year as he also saw important content lacking in the program and in the knowledge of the children. Many catechist were angry with the supplemental book requirement and quit.
Thank you Br. Allen for your work on this project. May our Lord’s Divine teaching be communicated to our children in its fullness."
"Ohhhh....you touched one of the third rails of "conservative", "traditional" and "homeschool" Catechesis.
Well, I agree with you wholeheartedly.
I didn't know she was a Theosophist but I'm not surprised especially after discovering the Theosophical influences on JPII.
I went to a Catholic Montessori school for 6 years--2 yo to 8 yo.
I have fond memories of the experience and sought to utilize the method when I homeschooled my own children.
Reading the books that described the beautifully designed "hands-on" learning tools and her enticing methodology where parents and teachers are merely 'facilitators"as the child explores and discovers whatever learning experience they feel guided towards was so enthralling to me as a young mom.
Indeed I had vivid memories after so many years of each and every hands on learning tool employed and spent many an hour creating them by hand for my own children. They offered a kinesthetic learning experience according to Piaget's concrete operational stage of learning. If they etched an indelible memory in my mind they must have been quite formative to be sure.
Well, I have to say that I did enjoy utilizing such smartly designed hands on tools and I do think they can be useful. Are they as "magically" imperative as the promoters of Montessori's fans claim them to be?
Moreover, is her childcentric methodology "Catholic" and as mystical and Christological as its proponents claim it to be?
Yes I used her hands on tools and I also drove my oldest children to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd every week for several years which was "facilitated" by an enthusiastic and well meaning teacher um...facilitator.
But no. The results as I had suspected were not as promised.
The Biblical maps and liturgical calendars, well I hope my children remember some of those lessons. The unrolling of the large scroll of paper in the park to symbolize how long the people of the old testament had to wait for the Advent and then for the Parousia, well it had a great impact on me, if not them.
When I ask what they remember they say nothing. ::Sigh::
Well that could be said about any primary school religious ed.
The part that I really take issue with is the child led, child centered aspect.
As a parent who sought to teach my children virtue as building blocks which depended on a foundation in order to add additional blocks as maturity allowed, this Montessori philosophy was an antithesis to the Biblical order of the family and formation of children.
The most important element of Montessori was that parents should never "teach" or interfere with the "freedom" of the child to explore as their imagination and inner guide led them to whatever they were truly ready to learn.
Thousands of years of Catholic education stressed the importance of obedience as foundational to education and the structure of family life. Was abuse committed in the name of this virtue? Yes, sadly sometimes it was. Does that mean the virtue is unnecessary? Of course not.
All I can say to fellow homeschool moms is if you don't lay the foundation for obedience then good luck teaching anything for years and years to come.
I know parents who say how wonderful the Montessori school was for their son since the teachers would tell them that if he didn't feel like learning that day he could just go outside and play.
One lady told me that her adult son still follows the Montessori method by exploring and tinkering in the garage as his family gathered for dinner inside. ::rolls eyes::
My relatively well behaved children would have a marked difference after I picked them up from the Cat of the Good Shepherd. My daughter especially would turn into a kind of selfish brat for hours after and seemed to think she was entitled to say and do anything she felt like doing. The difference in her demeanor was quite shocking! Deprogramming was a weekly effort.
This is not to say that I don't believe homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity to tailor each child's education to their aptitudes and passionate interests as they grow older. That is one of the best parts of homeschooling---AFTER the fundamentals have been taught and mastered which often requires the little one to sit down and do his work as he has been told and following directions with a teachable and obedient heart.
The training of a child in virtue while battling their natural born concupiscence looks like a funnel. If you start out with a very small amount of freedoms (deciding bedtime, waketime, naptime, mealtime, schooltime, tv/computer time, etc.) you can always give more and more freedoms and choices as they grow older and show virtue to handle them while still respecting your authority.
If you give all the freedoms too young, you will have a 5 year old telling you what to do, what to make for dinner, when their bedtime is, what they feel like learning or not, etc. They're ready to move out and get themselves an apartment! What do they a need parent for?
This will continue on until you put them back in the funnel which allows them to relax as they don't have the stressful responsibility of all those choices. Instead they can relax and let you lead them as their parent until they have acquired the virtues necessary to handle each freedom that comes with maturity. (Hopefully you will have scheduled plenty of one on one time with them for snuggling and reading books, playing games or in the yard...etc. as well as loads of praise for good behavior.)
If the funnel is upside down and you have given them all the freedom they want as littles, but expect obedience as they take your $40,000 car out on Saturday night when they are 16, what make you think it will suddenly appear?
With privileges comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes more privileges. That's how the funnel grows over time.
This mirrors our relationship as adults with God. We want the "freedom" to do whatever we want when we want. This ultimately leads to our demise and it's only when we learn to have obedience, trust and humility before the Lord that we are truly free and happy.
"Do as thou wilt is the whole of the law" is the universal code of Luciferianism, Freemasonry, Theosophy, Kabbalah, Baphomet, and a host of other recycled names.
So when moms ask me what curriculum I suggest, I always tell them to use whatever they like the most. It really doesn't matter that much and I try to encourage them not to get sidetracked in all the hoopla about "the latest" or the "most classical".
What really matters?........VIRTUES"
This is an excellent article regarding the CGS. Unlike the catechist who derides your piece as "silly and deeply ill-informed", I can honestly say that I have had the opportunity to see this particular program first hand....a tutorial, if you will, given me by the "Sisters" dressed in lay clothes, living in some isolated region outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, where parents would drop off the precious souls entrusted to them to be "catechized" in what amounted to various "stations" where the children would pretty much be left to their own devices, facilitated by the women who themselves reminded me of members of a cult. Yes, a cult. It would behoove all parents who desire to do right by their children to thoroughly investigate ANY catechesis program AND the individuals who implement it. Thank you for this very insightful article, all of which rings true given what I was allowed to experience.
I might also add that a year or so after my personal tour of the CGS "facility", I had an encounter with a professed catechist of said program who visited our parish with the intent of implementing the CGS program. She personified much of what you bring to light. I and several faithful Catholics in our parish did meet with the then Bishop of the diocese out of concern for what she was implementing in the catechesis program in our parish. She would eventually travel back to (Arizona)where she was most able to reap the fruits of her efforts but not before she and I went "head to head" regarding her valiant efforts to introduce in subtle ways the synthesis of all heresies, maintaining that doctrine AND the Church change with the times. With Catechists like that, it is no wonder that so many young souls embrace the tenants of Modernism while appearing to be devout and faithful Catholics. It is my experience that many souls who appear to be model Catholics are so very tainted with modernism, again, a heresy that has been condemned, alive and well in the CGS program, that they are impervious to the ramifications of sin and the rending of the Mystical Body of Christ by their proclivity to think that there is admirable truth in all religions. God bless you for your efforts to shine the light of truth on CGS. Who knew that years later, I would read about the very thing which caused me such distress at the time, only to be greatly renewed by your efforts to expose what is an insidious effort to undermine the TRUE FAITH as taught and defended for hundreds and hundreds of years."