I designed my stock market course the Montessori way. While there are no pink towers to build or colored beads to manipulate, I build a conceptual framework with my students to help them see the big picture, before they start choosing investment strategies.
Montessori training turned my traditional teaching upside down.
When I taught public school kindergarten, the social studies curriculum began with “all about me” and “my community.” And upper elementary school teachers often had their students write reports about randomly-selected countries without first teaching them the names of the continents. A traditional kindergartner once asked me “What planet did the Mexican children come from?”
My Montessori students, on the other hand, learned in preschool that “the Earth is made of land and water,” and then were shown the difference between a strait and an isthmus. By the time they learned about their own community, they understood where they fit. My third grade Montessori students understood that Wanda Petronski (a character in The Hundred Dresses) crossed the Atlantic Ocean, traveling East to West, when she came to the USA from Poland.
Thousands of people online will try to sell you an investing strategy without first preparing you to understand it. And like a kindergartner who doesn’t know The Earth is a sphere or that Mexico and the USA are on the same continent, you may end up feeling lost.
Before you put any of your money on the line, you need to have a good understanding of the overall stock market. Maria Montessori emphasized precise vocabulary to make concepts stick. So I don’t tell my Novice Investing students to buy index funds; I make sure they know what a stock market index is and I teach the difference between a mutual fund and an exchange traded fund. Likewise, I don’t advise them to “buy the dips;” I make sure they know why stock prices fluctuate, and I show them how to expand a stock chart to see the patterns over a day, a week, a year and 5 years.
There are no foolproof strategies for getting rich in the stock market, but there are lots of ways to lose your shirt. So while it may not be the most exciting part of your investing journey, spending about 5 hours up front to understand the big picture will help you know whether the advice you are receiving makes sense, or if it is too good to be true.