What's more beautiful than simple percussion instruments made from nature? UMA graduate, Tamara Stoll, created a lovely basket of instruments by collecting shells, rocks, and driftwood pieces from her beach in Oregon. She included brass bells and woven wrist bands to her musical collection. Just lovely!
A Collaborative Design
Here's a lovely idea for helping to create a spirit of respect and cooperation in the classroom.
Smooth & Bumpy
UMA graduate, Renata Lemire from Alberta, Canada, shares her Montessori original Sensorial Project which she entitled: Nature's Beauty - Smooth and Bumpy.
A very beautiful and inviting original Sensorial project!
(The transparent vinyl mat lays on top of the cotton floor mat):
A Personal Reflection
When people apply for our UMA teacher training, they are always asked "What attracts you to the Montessori method of education?"
Often they relate where their own journey with Montessori began. They may be a parent who has enrolled their child in a Montessori school and has observed how children interact. Or they didn't know a thing about Montessori but began to work as an assistant in a classroom. Or they had only heard about Montessori from a friend and went to a class as a casual observer. Perhaps they came across an article or read one of Dr. Montessori's books. Whatever the reason, what they saw STUCK and they were hooked.
Thus began their own trek to seek out what makes this method so unique for a child's learning. Something significant often happens along this journey. Many realize that Montessori education offers a way of looking at life for not only the child but for the adult.
My own journey with Montessori education began when I met Trudy (my wife). She kept talking about the unique giftedness of each child and their desire to freely explore this world, learning how to enjoy and cherish it. And how, through this unique method, a child learns to freely give back and actively contribute to others and to this world. But Trudy didn't just talk about it. She lived it in how she treated children and adults, with a level of respect and dignity. There was something different just in the way she would ask me a question or carry on a conversation with a child or a group of children. It was about appreciating the journey together, exploring answers, and marveling at our world!
So I began to read about Dr. Montessori and her writings. I guess you could say I had a revelation about my own early childhood while reading The Secret of Childhood. She wrote how a child, if given a nurturing environment, has a natural desire for independence, self-discipline, order, dignity, concentration, and so much more. I was struck by how my own childhood learning seemed so different. There was very little self discovery and more trying to figure out the "facts and knowledge" adults had in their possession.
As I reflected back on my childhood, I realized that my expected role was to simply open my head and let them (teachers, parents, adults) pour it into my little brain. Then, somehow, I was to regurgitate it back out by what they wanted to hear or by my marks on a quiz or exam. Okay, I am over-simplifying but you get my point. Learning didn't involve my own appreciation and exploration but someone else's expectations. Educationally, I felt as if I were trapped. My only way out was to tell someone else what they wanted to hear.
Reading Dr. Montessori's own discoveries in working with children was my turning point. From that time on, I was personally touched by how her concepts were not just a method of education but a helpful guide in the way I looked at and perceived life. It gave me something more than a method of education or how one goes about learning or guiding others to learn. In Dr. Montessori's teachings, I found why this way of learning is foundational to who we are as human beings.
Why do I believe in Montessori education?
First Things First
So often students enter our course eager to start learning about the child, classroom setup, creating materials, working with staff and parents... We begin by channeling this eagerness by re-orienting them to, first, a process of self-examination and what they can learn about themselves in order to cultivate a healthy outlook for the child.
"Here we must insist on the fact that an instructor must be prepared inwardly, and must consider one's own character methodically with a view to discovering any defects within oneself which might prove obstacles in the treatment of the child." Dr. Maria Montessori
Some students may struggle with this different orientation. But then, over time, they get it! They tell us how they have become more grounded inwardly and how it effects their work with children. Now learning involves their own self-discovery while helping children do the same.
At UMA we strive to cultivate each student's understanding of the child and their environment, coupled with a clear mindfulness about oneself. We believe Montessori education begins with YOU and your understanding of your own growth as a child. Discovering what affected you and how you learned during your early childhood helps you create a deeper connection to children, allowing them to reach their highest potential.
What attracts you to Montessori method of education? Where does your journey begin?
Big Words. Big Changes.
by John Shepard
Okay, I'm going to start off by using a familiar word within the Montessori community: Normalization. It may sound a bit scary as if all children should fall in line and goose step to the same beat. But it's not. It's a word borrowed from anthropology and relates to how one becomes a contributing member to society.
For Dr. Montessori, normalization involved seeing certain characteristics in children as they "normally" developed. For her, normalization was the greatest result of our work with the child. Through careful observation, Dr. Montessori saw that when the children first enter the classroom, they often don't exhibit these normalized characteristics yet, but hopefully, will over time. This early condition may be described as the child's unnormalized state. (For more on normalization, see lecture given by Dr. Rita Shaefer Zener, on the AMI 3-6 course Nakhon Pathon, Thailand, April 2006. Published at Michael Olaf)
Now for the good part! A profound influence on the child happens through properly preparing a reality-based environment and putting into play the Montessori philosophy. In time, voilà, new characteristics unfold! Each child will freely choose his/her work and begin to concentrate and work together respectfully and peacefully in the classroom. While normalization will happen at different times for different children, the end result is that the child shows the ability to concentrate on purposeful activities. The key to seeing normalization in the child and the classroom: CONCENTRATION
So today, here are five of these new characteristics of the normalized child and a quote for each one by Dr. Montessori.
"If a child’s cycle of activity is interrupted, the results are a deviation of behavior, aimlessness, and loss of interest…So whatever intelligent activity we witness in a child – even if it seems absurd to us…we must not interfere; for the child must be able to finish the cycle of activity on which his heart is set."
"This inner drama of the child is a drama of love. It is a great reality unfolding within the secret areas of his soul and at times completely absorbing it. These marvelous activities wrought in humble silence cannot take place without leaving behind ennobling qualities that will accompany the child through life. All this happens quietly and unnoticed as long as the child's environment adequately corresponds to his inner needs..."
Tomorrow, I will finish up with several other new characteristics of the child in the normalized classroom.
The Adult's Responsibility
“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and ... by a higher intelligence, arranged by an adult who is prepared for his/her mission.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Let's get rid of all those chemicals, in the classroom and at home!
For use in various Montessori classroom activities:
Here are more suggestions, beyond the classroom (from Healthy Holistic Living):
Let's all do our part to take care of our environment, our health, and above all, the health of our children! More suggestions? We welcome your thoughts.