Posts tagged #Montessori

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.

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.

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

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.