Posts filed under Articles

MNW Trainers Published in Latest NAMTA Journal

We are delighted to note that both Sarah Werner Andrews & Ginni Sackett, both of MNW’s Co-Directors of Primary Training, are featured in the most recent NAMTA journal.

The North American Montessori Teacher's Association (NAMTA) links Montessorians with their legacy and their future. Its services include print publications, audio visuals, conferences, and research. 

One of NAMTA's  endeavors is the publication of a quarterly journal. This publication includes articles by Dr Montessori as well as scholarly papers on Montessori and related topics. 

The most recent NAMTA Journal - Vol. 39 #2, Spring 2014 - is dedicated to "Breaking the Poverty Cycle: Social Retooling of the Montessori First Plane".

The NAMTA Journal is typically only available to NAMTA members, but we’ve received permission to make available these great articles for you to enjoy and share!

Ginni Sackett's Article:  "The Lines That Make the Clouds" The Essence of the Mathematical Mind in the First Six Years of Life (download)

Sarah Werner Andrews' Article:  Joyful Engagement: Montessori's Common Core Standard (download)

If you’re interested in obtaining the full journal for yourself, it can be purchased here.  

Summertime and the Montessori Child

Here's a great article from our friends at MariaMontessori.com

For children who are at home during the summer break, parents will wish to work diligently with slowing the pace of life.  Children will savor the leisurely passage of time in which they can relish individual choices, uninterrupted play, ample rest and sleep, unhurried meals and unplugged screens.  Here are just a few ideas of how a child can fill her long lovely summer days and return to school refreshed, nourished and eager:

  • Read beautiful, appropriate books (remember, the school has book lists to offer).  For the older Children’s House child, begin a chapter book that will develop into a repetitive ritual that she will look forward to and remember with warmth and happiness.  Have long leisurely conversations about the characters, the places visited, the sights and smells.  Provide large blank sheets of paper and crayons or watercolors and invite the child to illustrate parts of the story she remembers. Collect these into a handmade book of illustrations.
  • Resist the need to provide a playmate or to be a playmate for your child on a regular basis, but instead, honor her ability to find her own entertainment and source of activity.  Play-dates are fine for an occasional get-together, but children really do enjoy their own company when given the opportunity to figure it out and enact upon their own ingenuity.  The child’s play will reflect what is going on in her world, for this is the source of her imaginings.
  • Do not be afraid of boredom, for this is the passage to imaginative, interesting activity of the child’s own choosing.
  • Provide long extended periods of outside play with freedom to construct, dig, shovel and explore to heart’s content.  Resist staging and choosing for the child and instead, encourage the blossoming of his own imaginative play efforts.

Read the remainder of this article, and many others, at MariaMontessori.com

Posted on June 19, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Articles, Elementary, Primary, Resources.

17th Century Learning

It's always fascinating to see the context of our work. Below is an excerpt from a great article regarding what many consider to be the first picture book dedicated to the education of young children, Orbis Sensualium Pictus – or The World of Things Obvious to the Senses drawn in Pictures, as it was rendered in English in 1705.

The researcher Charles McNamara explores how the book can be seen to be as much about the invisible world as the visible--a theme that probably resonates with a lot of Montessorians.

John Comenius’ Orbis Sensualium Pictus (or The World of Things Obvious to the Senses drawn in Pictures) is, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “the first children’s picture book.” Originally published in 1658 in Latin and German, the Orbis — with its 150 pictures showing everyday activities like brewing beer, tending gardens, and slaughtering animals — is immediately familiar as an ancestor of today’s children’s literature. This approach centered on the visual was a breakthrough in education for the young, as was the decision to teach the vernacular in addition to Latin. Unlike treatises on education and grammatical handbooks, it is aimed directly at the young and attempts to engage on their level.

The Orbis was hugely popular. At one point it was the most used textbook in Europe for elementary education, and according to one account it was translated into “most European and some of the Oriental languages.” Its author John Comenius, a Czech by birth, was also well-known throughout Europe and worked in several countries as a school reformer. His portrait was painted by Rembrandt, and according to an 1887 edition of the Orbis, Comenius was even “once solicited to become President of Harvard College.” Even if he is less celebrated today by name, his innovative ideas about education are still influential. In his Didactica Magna, for example, he advocates for equal educational opportunities for all: boys and girls, rich and poor, urban and rural.

Illustration for the sounds, from the 1705 English edition of Orbis Sensualium Pictus

Despite his progressive aims and lasting educational influence, Comenius does not come off as a thoroughly modern schoolmaster. When we turn to the first page of the Orbis, we find an opening sentence that would seem peculiar in today’s children’s books: “Come, boy, learn to be wise.” We see above the text a teacher and student in dialogue, the former holding up his finger and sporting a cane and large hat, the latter listening in an emotional state somewhere between awe and anxiety. The student asks, “What doth this mean, to be wise?” His teacher answers, “To understand rightly, to do rightly, and to speak out rightly all that are necessary.”

The first chapter of the Orbis looks to the third of these goals in what reads like an early version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Children learn how “to speak out rightly” by imitating animal noises. These two pages are a trove of Latin onomatopoetic verbs and peculiar renderings of animal sounds: cats cry out “nau nau” instead of “meow meow,” and we learn that “the Duck quacketh," “the Hare squeaketh," and “the Crow crieth.” This introduction to animal noises is familiar territory for modern educational toys. The teacher explains that first the student must learn “the plain sounds…which living creatures know how to make, and thy tongue knoweth how to imitate.” After mastering these noises, the student and teacher “will go into the World, and we will view all things.”

After thirty-five chapters on theology, elements, plants, and animals, Comenius finally introduces man. He again opts for the Biblical account and addresses Adam and Eve before more immediate topics like “The Outward Parts of a Man,” where we learn that women have “two Dugs” and that below the stomach we find “the Groyn and the privities.” The anatomical terminology is vast, including words for each finger and for a number of bones in the body. But amid instruction on the corporeal and familiar, Comenius again injects the abstract and invisible into his picture book with Chapter 43, a discussion of “The Soul of Man.” A dotted outline of a human, opening his arms as if to welcome the students’ gaze, stands at the top of the page. Despite this illustration, Comenius’ discussion of the soul is not dumbed down for children. He lays out the categories of souls for his young students: the “Vegetative” soul of plants, the “Sensitive” soul of animals, and the “Rational” soul of man.

Illustration for “The Soul”

Opening illustration of Master and Child

Opening illustration of Master and Child

The final page, mirroring the first, again shows the teacher speaking and the young student listening attentively. But in his second appearance, the student says nothing: we might say Comenius’ lesson was not a matter of dialogue and discussion but of assiduous memorization. The teacher, too, seems to have changed his approach. He tells the student, “thou hast seen in short, all things that can be shewed,” but he recommends that the student also “read other good Books diligently” so that he may become “learned, wise, and godly.”

Read the original full article here.

Gandhi Speaks at Montessori Training College

Speech At Montessori Training College 
Mohandas K. Gandhi

London , [ October 28, 1931 ]

(Note: Dr. Maria Montessori met Mahatma Gandhi in the beginning of October, 1931 in London. And on October 28, 1931 Gandhi spoke at the Montessori Training College in London where Dr. Montessori was also in attendance. What follows is the text of Gandhi’s Speech, which was published in the weekly newspaper, Young India, on November 19, 1931. For further information and/or discussions on this topic, please contact Shall Sinha at shall@ssinha.com )

Madame, you have overwhelmed me with your words. It is perfectly true, I must admit it in all humility, that however indifferently it may be, I endeavor to represent love in every fiber of my being. I am impatient to realize the presence of my Maker, Who to me embodies Truth, and in the early part of my career I discovered that if I was to realize Truth I must obey, even at the cost of my life, the law of love. And having been blessed with children, I discovered that the law of Love could be best understood and learned through little children.

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Were it not for us, their ignorant poor parents, our children would be perfectly innocent. I believe implicitly that the child is not born mischievous in the bad sense of the term. If parents would behave themselves whilst the child is growing, before it is born and after, it is a well-known fact that the child would instinctively obey the law of Truth and the law of Love.

And when I understood this lesson in the early part of my life, I began a gradual but distinct change in life. I do not propose to describe to you the several phases through which this stormy life of mine has passed, but I can only, in truth and in perfect humility, bear witness to the fact that to the extent that I have represented Love in my life, in thought, word and deed I have realized the “peace that passeth understanding”. I have baffled many of my friends when they have noticed in me peace that they have envied, and they have asked me for the cause of that priceless possession. I have not been able to explain the cause by saying that, if my friends found that peace in me, it was due to my attempt to obey this, the greatest law of our being.

It was in 1915 when I reached India , that I first became acquainted with your activities. It was in a place called Amreli that I found that there was a little school being conducted after the Montessori system. Your name had preceded that first acquaintance. I found no difficulty in finding out at once that this school was not carrying out the spirit of your teaching; the letter was there, but whilst there was an honest - more or less honest - effort being made, I saw too that there was a great deal of tinsel about it. I came in touch, then, with more such schools, and the more I came in touch, the more I began to understand that the foundation was good and splendid, if the children could be taught through the laws of nature - nature, consistent with human dignity, not nature that governs the beast. I felt instinctively from the way in which the children were being taught that, whilst they were being indifferently taught, the original teaching was conceived in obedience to this fundamental law. Since then, I have had the pleasure of coming across several of your pupils, one of whom had even made a pilgrimage to Italy and had received your personal blessings. I was looking forward to meeting the children here and you all and it was a great pleasure to me to see these children.

I had taken care to learn something about these little children. I had a foretaste of what I saw here, in Birmingham , where there is a school between which and this there is a difference. But I also saw that there also human nature was struggling to express itself. I see the same thing here and it was a matter of inexpressible joy to me that from their childhood the children were brought to understand the virtue of silence, and how, in response to the whisper from their teacher, the children came forward one after another in that pin-drop silence. It gave great joy to see all those beautiful rhythmic movements and, as I was watching those movements of the children, my whole heart went out to the millions of the children of the semi-starved villages of India, and I asked myself as my heart went out to those children, “Is it possible for me to give them those lessons and the training that are being given under your system, to those children”?

We are conducting an experiment amongst the poorest of the children in India . I do not know how far the experiment will go. We have the problem of giving real vital education to these children of India 's hovels, and we have no material means. We have to fall back upon the voluntary assistance of teachers, but when I look for teachers, they are very few, especially, teachers of the type wanted, in order to draw the best from the children through understanding, through studying their individuality and then putting the child on its own resources, as it were, on its own honor. And believe me from my experience of hundreds, I was going to say thousands, of children I know that they have perhaps a finer sense of honor than you and I have.

The greatest lessons in life if we would but stoop and humble ourselves, we would learn not from grown-up learned men, but from the so-called ignorant children. Jesus never uttered a loftier or a grander truth than when he said that wisdom cometh out of the mouths of babes. I believe it; I have noticed it in my own experience that, if we would approach babes in humility and in innocence, we would learn wisdom from them.

I must not take up your time. I have simply given you what is, at the present moment, agitating me, namely, the delicate problem, considered in human terms, of drawing out the best from these millions of children of whom I have told you. But I have learned this one lesson - that what is impossible with man is child's play with God and, if we have faith in that Divinity which presides over the destiny of the meanest of His creation, I have no doubt that all things are possible and in that final hope I live and pass my time and endeavor to obey His will. Therefore, I repeat that even as you, out of your love for children, are endeavoring to teach those children, through your numerous institutions, the best that can be brought out of them, even so I hope that it will be possible not only for the children of the wealthy and the well-to-do, but for the children of paupers to receive training of this nature. You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won't have the struggle, we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.

Reposted from the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace website

Posted on June 10, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Articles, Elementary, Primary, Resources.

Press Release: Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention and Learning In Young Children, According To New Carnegie Mellon Research

PITTSBURGH—Maps, number lines, shapes, artwork and other materials tend to cover elementary classroom walls. However, new research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that too much of a good thing may end up disrupting attention and learning in young children.

Published in Psychological Science, Carnegie Mellon's Anna V. FisherKarrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman looked at whether classroom displays affected children's ability to maintain focus during instruction and to learn the lesson content. They found that children in highly decorated classrooms were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed.

"Young children spend a lot of time — usually the whole day — in the same classroom, and we have shown that a classroom's visual environment can affect how much children learn," said Fisher, lead author and associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Should teachers take down their visual displays based on the findings of this study?

"We do not suggest by any means that this is the answer to all educational problems. Furthermore, additional research is needed to know what effect the classroom visual environment has on children's attention and learning in real classrooms," Fisher said "Therefore, I would suggest that instead of removing all decorations, teachers should consider whether some of their visual displays may be distracting to young children."

For the study, 24 kindergarten students were placed in laboratory classrooms for six introductory science lessons on topics they were unfamiliar with. Three lessons were taught in a heavily decorated classroom, and three lessons were given in a sparse classroom.

The results showed that while children learned in both classroom types, they learned more when the room was not heavily decorated. Specifically, children's accuracy on the test questions was higher in the sparse classroom (55 percent correct) than in the decorated classroom (42 percent correct).

"We were also interested in finding out if the visual displays were removed, whether the children's attention would shift to another distraction, such as talking to their peers, and if the total amount of time they were distracted would remain the same," said Godwin, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology and fellow of the Program in Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER).

However, when the researchers tallied all of the time children spent off-task in both types of classrooms, the rate of off-task behavior was higher in the decorated classroom (38.6 percent time spent off-task) than in the sparse classroom (28.4 percent time spent off-task).

The researchers hope these findings lead to further studies into developing guidelines to help teachers optimally design classrooms.

The Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education, funded this research.

Last fall, CMU launched the Simon Initiative to accelerate the use of learning science and technology to improve student learning. Named to honor the work of the late Nobel Laureate and CMU Professor Herbert Simon, the initiative will harness CMU's decades of learning data and research to improve educational outcomes for students everywhere.

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Published in Psychological Science, CMU researchers looked at whether classroom displays affected children’s ability to maintain focused attention during instruction and to learn the lesson content. They found that children in highly decorated classrooms (bottom image) were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed (top image).

This article originally published on http://www.cmu.edu

Posted on June 6, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Elementary, Articles, Primary, Resources.

New Play Area to Open at Silver Falls, Oregon

Originally published in the Statesman Journal.

Officials at Silver Falls State Park are taking aim at the growing problem of "nature deficit disorder" in today's children with the creation of a new natural play area at Oregon's largest state park.

Described as a quarter-mile loop with adventure pods where children can safely climb a tree, hide in a cougar den, growl like a bear or weave a bird's nest, the natural play area is having its grand opening May 31.

"Connecting kids to the outdoors is a critically important thing to do, for a whole host of reasons," said Oregon Parks and Recreation director Lisa Van Laanen. "When you camp, picnic and play outdoors a lot as a child, it creates a lifelong love of the outdoors. And that's good for everybody."

The grand opening is 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 31, 2014, at the North Falls Group Camp area. There will be guided tours, refreshments and a short ceremony with a tree planting. Parking fees at the North Falls Group Camp parking lot will be waived for the duration of the event.

The play area has been more than five years in the making. Planners conducted design workshops in 2008 and 2009. Trail construction began in 2010.

The development unveiled May 31 represents phase one of development, with the possibility of another pod within the next year.

Additional information Silver Falls State Park can be found here.

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Frozen

It is inherent in the nature of children to love their time and place, and boy do they love the movie Frozen.

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In the spirit of exploring ways to channel children’s interest in support of each child’s development (see our Primary trainers’ blog post on popular culture and holidays found here), we were struck by how thrilling it would be for a child to discover that they can compose a song from Frozen on the Bells!

The famous ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

The famous ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Also, look at the amazing potential below for true stories about how beautiful structures can indeed be made completely of ice.  How else have you and the children channeled and enjoyed Frozen in Montessori environments?

Posted on May 21, 2014 and filed under Articles, Elementary, From MNW Staff, Primary, Resources.

Educateurs san Frontières

Montessori Education for Social Change, Empowering Communities, Enabling Children

Educateurs sans Frontières ® (EsF) is a division of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) dedicated to assisting children through the Montessori approach to education. EsF is Montessori without Borders © and is committed to working with individuals, families, communities, organisations, and governments to champion the rights, education and welfare of children worldwide. More information on EsF can be found here.

What is EsF?

EsF is an AMI programme in which participants revisit the principles and practices from the perspective of society at large; as individuals the participants will contribute to the aims of AMI.

Functioning as a social movement that will strive to obtain recognition for the rights of the child throughout the world, irrespective of race, religion, political and social beliefs; cooperating with other bodies and organisations which further the development of education, human rights, and peace.


The Fourth Assembly of EsF happens this year!

6 - 20 July, 2014
Inpawa Hotel Ban Phai, Khon Kaen, Thailand


The Association Montessori Internationale organizes EsF assemblies, gatherings and orientations to bring the benefits of Montessori education to more children.

Major assemblies are held every three years and serve as milestones in the development of AMI's Educateurs sans Frontières work.

Learn more about the 2014 EsF Assembly in Thailand by downloading this flyer.

Learn more about the 2014 EsF Assembly in Thailand by downloading this flyer.


Montessori Mention in the Latest Council for American Private Education Newsletter

A nice mention of Montessori in an article regarding grants for Pre-School programs, published in the newsletter of the Council for American Private Education Newsletter.

(Download and read the full newsletter here.)

Preschool Grants

When she met with CAPE’s board of directors and state representatives last month, Libby Doggett, deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning at the U.S. Department of Education, urged the CAPE community to weigh in on the public discussion regarding the design of the new Preschool Development Grants competition.

The private school community responded in force, with various CAPE member organizations and CAPE itself offering comments at a public meeting March 20 and through an online forum established to solicit input.

CAPE’s comments called for the new grants program to be open to diverse approaches to early education, observing that there is “no single combination of activities, lessons, methods, and settings best suited for all children in all circumstances.”

Specifically, CAPE recommended that the federal government require as an explicit condition for receiving a grant, “that a state’s quality rating system, professional development requirements, training and credentialing requirements, curriculum guidelines, even health and safety standards respect and accommodate a variety of truly distinctive approaches to quality early education, including those practiced in Montessori programs, faith-based programs, and Waldorf programs.”

Montessori programs, which are universally recognized as a time-honored, high-quality approach to education, sometimes run into difficulties in states that insist on a one-size-fits-all approach to pre-K. State standards can undermine the pedagogy and theory of child development espoused by the Montessori community.

The competition should insist that such standards only be developed “in consultation with representatives from the diverse early education community,” said CAPE. 

Download and read the full newsletter here.

Posted on May 9, 2014 and filed under Articles, Resources.

Annual General Meeting in Amsterdam

Just over two weeks ago, close to two hundred international AMI members enjoyed a wonderful Annual General Meeting (AGM) Montessori Weekend in Amsterdam. Many people enjoyed getting to know colleagues from over 30 different countries and learning about the innovative Montessori work being done around the world. If you follow this link, you can read about the major activities of that weekend and get a visual impression from the many photographs that are included.

MNW employees, Ginni Sackett, Jennifer Davidson, and Glenn Goodfellow standing with new AMI president Philip O'Brien

MNW employees, Ginni Sackett, Jennifer Davidson, and Glenn Goodfellow standing with new AMI president Philip O'Brien

The weekend also saw a major change to the Board of the organization: André Roberfroid stepped down as president. The 10 years of his presidency have been very significant for the organization, and we are most grateful for his groundbreaking work. In recognition he was awarded honorary membership of AMI.

As new president we welcome Philip O'Brien, and in the bulletin you will find a short introduction to his background, and a message from Philip to the AMI membership.

We hope you will enjoy browsing the bulletin and connecting with your fellow Montessorians around the globe.

Ginni Sackett Published

Click above to download the full article.

Click above to download the full article.

The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), with which Montessori Northwest is affiliated, was founded by Maria Montessori in 1929 to protect the integrity of her life’s work. AMI upholds these origins by maintaining core functions that include overseeing/developing Montessori teacher training around the world, organizing conferences, overseeing the publication of Montessori’s work, and many other endeavors.

One of these ‘other endeavors’ is the publication of a periodic journal. This publication includes articles by Dr Montessori as well as scholarly papers on Montessori and related topics. Currently, two issues are published each year.

The most recent AMI Journal is a definitive double-issue reviewing Montessori literature on the psychology and implementation of peace on earth. It’s made extra special for two additional reasons:

  1. It reprints in book size NAMTA's exhibit, Guided by Nature, that appeared at the 2013 International Montessori Congress in Portland.
  2. It features the article “A Sharp Call to the Public Conscience: Maria Montessori and the Social Party of the Child” by Ginni Sackett.

Ginni Sackett, one of MNW’s very own Directors of Primary Training, is also an AMI consultant and examiner. She is passionate about advancing the international Montessori movement and bringing the benefits of Montessori education to children worldwide.

The AMI Journal is typically only available to AMI members, but we’ve received permission to make available Ginni’s great article for you to enjoy and share.

If you’re interested in obtaining the full journal for yourself, it can be purchased here.  

 

Posted on April 24, 2014 and filed under Articles, From our Trainers, Primary.

Two Complimentary Approaches to Working with Infants and Toddlers

The Oregon Montessori Association recently released a new interesting article by Breanne Monahan indicating that the Magda Gerber's Educaring® approach is a philosophy that compliments and supports Infant and Toddler Montessori environments.

We found it fascinating--perhaps you will too. Download the full document here:

A little background information:

RIE® (pronounced “rye”) is a philosophy for parents and caregivers of children from birth to 2 years of age developed by Magda Gerber, a child therapist and infant specialist. Gerber immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1957. She was influenced by the work of Hungarian pediatrician and friend, Dr. Emmi Pikler. Dr. Pikler ran a residential home, Loczy, for infants in Hungary and was concerned with the challenges of providing quality group care to young children. Pikler’s simple yet revolutionary approach to infant care inspired many. In 1978, based on her work with Emmi Pikler and her own experiences with young children, Magda Gerber founded Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), a non-profit organization based out of Los Angeles.

Posted on April 8, 2014 and filed under Articles, A-to-I, Resources.

Assistants to Infancy, Applied in the Home

A few days ago, a recent MNW graduate, Ms. Junnifa Uzodike, shared some pictures of her son. Beyond their obvious cuteness, they also demonstrate some great Montessori principles that can be applied in the home. To better explain what you see here, Gloria Singh, Assistants to Infancy Course Assistant, has contributed a few notes.

On the bottom left we see her child looking at himself in the mirror, getting visual feedback about himself and also getting a view of the rest of the room--very beneficial when a baby can't move well independently to see what's around. Babies really enjoy looking at faces, studying the expressions, watching lips move in talking--even their own.

In the background, you can see the toys organized simply, with very easy access for the child.

We also see the baby very busy at the weaning chair and table, in this case he likely used it to pull himself up into a standing position so that his hands can be free to explore whatever has captured his interest. Non-walking children use the smallest chairs with arms--the arms give lots of support if their sitting is still unsteady and also helps them to stay at the weaning table until they are done with their eating.

A chair without arms at a table is best for children who have begun walking, because it is much easier for them to get into the chair without having to maneuver around the arms and they likely will not have learned to pull out the chair to make room for their bodies to get into it.

Have you ever watched a young child work out how to sit down in a chair? It's quite an event to witness. "How to Sit in a Chair" is a Practical Life activity that we learn to demonstrate for young children on the A to I course.

We also talk a lot about how simple, uncluttered, and appealing an appropriate environment is for young children--a few toys that get rotated, a mixture of materials (fabrics, wood, metal, etc.). You can see this here too.

Want to learn more about MNW’s Assistants to Infancy Course? Click here for additional information.

Montessori for the Masses

Sarah Werner Andrews, Director of Primary training here at MNW, came across this interesting intro to Montessori article in the March 2014 newsletter of the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) which is printed and distributed to over 140K School and District leaders. It's great to see information about Montessori making its way into the hands of so many influential educators!

Please also note the quotes from new MNW Board member and senior associate at the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, Jackie Cossentino.

Download the full 3-page article by clicking above.

Download the full 3-page article by clicking above.

Posted on March 21, 2014 and filed under Articles, Elementary, A-to-I, From our Trainers, Primary, Resources.

News from the AMI Stewarding Council USA

The AMI Stewarding Council USA was formed in November 2012 as a result of the AMI Summit, with an aim to better facilitate the working of the Association Montessori Internationale across the formal and informal Montessori communities in the United States.  It comprises representatives of all AMI stakeholders in the United States.  Its overall aim is to significantly increase access to quality Montessori programs for more children, families, and communities. Learn more about the AMI Stewarding Council USA here.

Montessori Northwest, as represented by Executive Director Jennifer Davidson, is honored to be part of this ambitiously comprehensive work.

The Stewarding Council most recently met in February at the 2014 AMI Refresher Course in Houston, Texas. At this meeting the Council took time to ground itself in its mission and goals identified as outcomes of the Summit. They also discussed the vision of future work and adopted several action items.

A Communiqué was recently released, outlining the progress and process of that last Summit meeting. It's a lengthy document, but worth the read. It can be read in its entirety here.

Posted on March 17, 2014 and filed under Articles, From MNW Staff, Resources.

La respuesta Montessori al papel de la fantasia

This post available in English by clicking here.

Hace unos días publicamos una historia fascinante de Psychology Today en nuestra página de Facebook acerca de como los niños procesan la fantasía en los cuentos (lee el artículo completo aquí en Inglés).  

Este es un tema que la propia Dra. Montessori subscribió y que además atrae de forma particular a Sarah Werner,  Directora de Capacitación de primaria de MNW.  En respuesta a ese artículo, Sarah  ha contribuido con algunas perspectivas dentro del contexto histórico para ayudar a los montessorianos a entender mejor el papel de la fantasía en los relatos.

En 1919, María Montessori reconoció la controversia que provocaban sus puntos de vista acerca de los cuentos de hadas, al hablar ante la Child Study Society  (Sociedad de estudios infantiles) sobre el tema La imaginación de los niños a través de los cuentos de hadas. María Montessori bromeaba con el público acerca de que este tema le había sido impuesto, pues ella no lo habría elegido y después atrevido a enfrentar a la audiencia. A su crítica de los cuentos de hadas ella respondió: “Debido a que he sido muy directa al expresar mi opinión acerca del valor de los cuentos de hadas, la gente ha llegado a la conclusión de que yo estoy fuertemente opuesta a ellos. En realidad no siento un antagonismo tan intenso”. Su opinión acerca de los cuentos de hadas era muy simple: “La imaginación no es parte del problema, porque al contar cuentos de hadas, somos nosotros (los adultos) quienes imaginamos. El niño sólo escucha”.

Durante su conferencia, María Montessori dijo que “(El niño pequeño) no puede distinguir bien entre lo real y lo imaginario, entre las cosas que son posibles y las cosas que son meramente inventos”. Ella trataba, una vez más, de aclarar su posición acerca de la educación basada en cultivar la credulidad, en vez de la realidad (Times Education Supplement, 1919, reprinted in AMI communications, No. 2, 1975).

Y en un estudio relacionado...

A la edad de 15 meses, un infante es capaz de aplicar a la vida real algo que aprendió en un dibujo de algún libro y también transferir esa información en otra dirección (DeLoach & Ganea, 2009). 

Por ejemplo, un infante puede aprender el nombre de un pájaro en un dibujo de un libro y después identificar el pájaro en su patio y viceversa. Después de aprender el nombre de un objeto real, los niños pueden identificarlo con mayor éxito en una fotografía que en un dibujo. “El hecho de que la naturaleza emblemática de los dibujos parezca tener un papel relevante en la habilidad de los niños de interactuar de manera significativa con los libros tiene importantes implicaciones educativas, por ejemplo que los libros con más dibujos realistas son mejores para ayudar a los niños a aprender” (Ganea, Bloom-Pickard, & DeLoach, 2008).  En general, cuanto más se expone a los niños a libros antropomorfos (animales y objetos con habilidades humanas) tanto más se confunden acerca de las propiedades de animales y objetos reales (DeLoach & Ganea, 2009).

¿Qué piensas acerca de este tema? ¿Es este un tema al que te has enfrentado en el salón de clases o con los padres? Compártenos tus experiencias.

Necesitamos traductores

Cycles in Nature

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In July last year a group of 8 middle school students from Pacific Crest Montessori School in Seattle, WA set out on their bikes to ride 200 miles to the 2013 International Montessori Congress in Portland, OR. This was the start of something new and powerful with impact reaching far beyond a bike ride. The Portland congress was the first time ever that adolescents were invited—and given a voice—at a Montessori congress. The idea to bike there was inspired by the first Cycles in Nature event held in May of 2013; students from Australia, Thailand, Mexico, the US and Canada spent a day on bicycles participating in a grassroots initia- tive to build a global adolescent Montessori network. But, most importantly, these students represent the beginning of a movement that empowers Montessori students to make the world a better place. 

This year, the organizers of Cycles in Nature have opened the event to Montessori Students of all ages--And you're encouraged to participate!

Cycles in Nature is more than a day of fresh air and exercise. With a dedicated local and global fundraising component, it gives students a way to feel relevant in the world. So, we are dedicating May 2014 to cycle together to:

  • Create a network of empowered Montessori youth

  • Give indivduals the opportunity to feel relevant and have global impact

  • Support environmental sustainability and social justice through fundraising 

The cycle ride will be a sponsored event, raising money per mile from family and friends, local businesses, grant organizations and everybody in between. The funds will be split 50/50 between a local organization (of each school’s own choice) and a global initiative that supports social justice or environmental sustain- ability. This year’s global initiatives are: Children’s Eternal Rain Forest Project (Montessori Institute for the Science of Peace) and the Article 15 Foundation, which supports youth in Senegal to find their way out of poverty through education and income generating activities. 

Join us! You choose the day that works for your school, then through our website you’ll download all the resources you need to get started. On our blog students can publicize their event, put their route on the map, share stories and photos, and stay in touch with other schools all over the world. www.cyclesinnature.org

Montessori Responds to the Role of Fantasy

A few days ago we posted a fascinating story from Psychology Today to our FaceBook page about how children process fantasy in stories (read the full story here).

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This is a subject that Dr. Montessori herself addressed, and one that particularly fascinates MNW's Director of Primary Training, Sarah Werner Andrews. In response to that article in Psychology Today, Sarah has contributed some fascinating perspectives within historical context to help Montessorians better understand the role of fantasy in storytelling.

Montessori acknowledged the controversy surrounding her views on fairy tales in 1919, when she spoke to the Child Study Society on the topic:  Children’s Imagination by Means of Fairy Tales.  Montessori joked with the crowd that this topic was dictated to her; she would not have dared to choose it herself and face the audience!  To her criticism of fairy tales, she answered, “When I have been so bold as to express my opinion of the value of the fairy tale, people have jumped to the conclusion that I was fiercely opposed to it.  I do not really feel any such intense antagonism.” Her point regarding fairy tales was simply, “Imagination really does not enter into the problem, because in telling fairy tales it is we (the adult) who do the imagining.  The child only listens.”

During that speech Montessori told the listeners, “(The young child) cannot distinguish well between the real and the imaginary, between things that are possible and things that are merely ‘made up’.” During this speech in 1919, Montessori was attempting once again to clarify her position regarding education based on cultivating credulity, instead of on reality. (Times Education Supplement, 1919, reprinted in AMI communications, No. 2, 1975)

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And in a related study… By 15 months of age, young children can apply something learned from a picture book to real life, and also transfer that information in the other direction (DeLoach & Ganea, 2009).  For example, a toddler can learn the name for a robin in a picture book, and then identify a robin in the backyard, and vice versa.  After learning the name of a real object, children were more successful transferring that name to a photograph than to a cartoon drawing of the object.  “The fact that the iconic nature of pictures seems to have an important role in children’s ability to interact meaningfully with books has important educational implications; namely, that books with more realistic pictures are better for assisting young children’s learning” (Ganea, Bloom-Pickard, & DeLoach, 2008).  In general, the more young children are exposed to anthropomorphized books, (animals or objects given human attributes) the more likely they are to confuse their beliefs about the properties of real animals or objects (DeLoach & Ganea, 2009).

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Is this a subject that you've had to deal with the in classroom or with parents? Let's hear about it!

Great Visual Resource

As educators, we often seek out unique and fascinating visuals to engage our students. With this in mind, an interesting resource for you--Enjoy!

(This post originally appeared on the Public Domain Review.)

Last week the ever-incredible British Library announced that they were gifting more than 1 million images to the world, uploaded to Flickr Commons under the public domain mark, meaning complete freedom of re-use. The range and breadth of images is phenomenal. As they say in their post announcing the release the “images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of”. Each image was extracted from its respective home (books making up a total of 65,000 already digitised volumes) by a program known as the ‘Mechanical Curator’, a creation of the British Library Labs project. A crowdsourcing application is being launched in the new year to help describe what the images portray – and the British Library is also putting out a general plea for people to innovate new ways to navigate, find and display this incredible array of images. (Email BL Labs here).

Doing Prekindergarten Right

We occasionally forward along relevant information from other sources.
For example, this great article from the Huffington Post by Ruth Bettelheim, Ph.D..

American leaders are beginning to address the deficits in our country's early education system. However, President Obama's call for a major expansion of public prekindergarten education, and even the commitment to providing universal preschool education recently made by both New York's governor and New York City's mayor, do not go far enough. While both proposals take big steps in the right direction, they would only apply to children age 4 and up, and would not systematically reform the kind of education these children receive. The only way to do preschool really right is to start when children are significantly younger, to use educational methods specially targeted at the emotional, social, and cognitive development of toddlers, and to increase mandatory training and salaries for preschool teachers.

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Preschool children think and function differently than school-age children, which is why primary school typically begins at age 6 or 7 everywhere in the world. Since the curricula and methods designed for older children don't work for toddlers, preschools are often run like babysitting centers, with teachers who are trained (and paid) much more poorly than their primary school counterparts.

However, we now know that the first 5 years of life constitute the most critical period for the development of social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills. If things go wrong at this stage, the price is a life time of handicaps and often failure in one or more areas. Far from not being ready for education, young children urgently need high quality educational experiences to maximize whatever potential they were born with.

This maximization requires different educational methods than those developed for older children. Fortunately, several methods have been developed during the past century to enhance learning for young children. Most prominently, Dr. Montessori developed her method by investigating which approaches could best educate the severely impoverished slum children of early 20th century Rome.

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The Montessori Method systematically teaches independent problem solving, starting at age 18 months, using hands-on learning and the native interests of preschoolers. She demonstrated that, given adequate food, regular health checkups, and the right full-day program, virtually all of even the most deprived children could learn to an equal or higher standard than their more privileged, traditionally educated peers.

Other methods, such as Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Dewey, Abecedarian, and Bank Street, also address the unique needs of this age group. Unfortunately, sufficiently rigorous, longitudinal trials of these approaches have not yet been undertaken to determine which ones best serve the developmental needs of very young children.

Pedagogy and education research have both systematically undervalued the importance of social and emotional development in preschool children. Indeed, neuroscientific evidence demonstrates that all learning is based on emotional responses and social experiences. Therefore, social and emotional intelligence need to be developed as carefully and as thoughtfully as IQ. We now know that all three are essential for success in our highly networked, rapidly changing technological age.

Therefore, teachers need to be trained not only in the most effective approaches to cognitive development in young children, but also in how to foster and enhance their very sensitive emotional and social development. This will require both increased funding for research, and more rigorous training programs for preschool teachers. But recruiting and retaining highly talented and motivated teachers requires that salaries be increased significantly, to better match the critical importance and extremely demanding nature of their work.

While all of these measures may sound expensive, over a generation they would be far more than offset by the reduced costs of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, addiction and all the other ills to which poor educational outcomes can lead, and by the increased productivity of a better-educated workforce. Indeed, according to Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman, the rate of return on investment when high quality preschool starts very early "is in the range of 6 percent to 10 percent per year per dollar invested."

However, even the best preschool education will not be maximally effective if it does not start until children are four, by which point the majority of that critical 0- to 5-year-old window has already passed. If we want to give every child the best chance for success, universal full-day preschool should start at 1+ or 2+. With that in place, in just a few years, children from all backgrounds will start arriving at primary school on track, with the skills and background necessary to be successful students. As we begin to expand and reform public preschool education, we should make the commitment to give all children a true head start toward fulfilling their potential.

Posted on February 5, 2014 and filed under Articles.