Montessori Plus School Kent WA

Montessori Teacher Preparation Kent WA

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Love of Order

Most of our society thinks of children as impulsive and chaotic beings. Dr. Maria Montessori found, however, that even the youngest children display a need for and a sense of order in their environment. The infant needs the constancy of his mother’s and father’s faces; the toddler must have his “blankee” and favorite stuffed animals to go to sleep. The room in which the young child spends most of his time must remain constant in the location of his bed, toys, chair, etc. because his environment is, to him, “like the sea to the fish and the air to the birds”, said Dr. Montessori.

Even young children will see items out-of-place and put them back. This is his divine drive for constancy, as part of his construction, and we must recognize it and allow it to be expressed. A parent once asked one of our teachers, “Why does my son take the front door mat to his room and put his toys on it?” Of course we know the answer: The child loves an orderly environment and has learned how satisfying it is to have a safe place to “work.” Adults do not realize how young children thrive on the same environment, and things always in their place. As Dr. Montessori mentioned, during the period of active construction of his psyche, “the child often feels the deepest impulse to bring order into what, according to his logic, is in a state of confusion” (1995).

One year I allowed about twenty teachers in training to visit one of our large classrooms for a short while, maybe thirty minutes. The adults came in while the children were working, and the new teachers took off their shoes and put them by the double doors. Then they found places around the room to sit and watch. Not too long afterwards, we all looked over and saw two children by the doorway. They observed the twenty pairs of shoes and found the matches for each one, placing them in pairs along the wall.

Although the child appears to be primarily fixed on his external world, he also possesses an internal order in his body. The internal sense of order “makes him aware of the different parts of his own body and their relative positions” (1966). He thrives on a definite schedule of eating and sleeping, playing, and learning. Without it, he becomes distracted and loses concentration.

Spiritual Embryo

One of the most profound concepts in Dr. Maria Montessori’s work is her view of the child’s “spiritual embryo.”  Before child psychologists such as Piaget laid out their stages of development, Montessori gave us the counter-cultural view of the child’s nature as “full” rather than blank.  She found, through her keen observations that children are born with a “psychic pattern” that unfolds after birth. Unlike animals, the human is not guided by fixed instincts but through his absorbent mind in his environment. The human being, therefore, is free and likely to develop in more varieties of personality.  It is imperative that the adult be careful to protect the child’s psychic life as he develops it secretly “over a long period of time.”

Travel Diary: Taitung, Taiwan – Sunday, 03/27/2011

After the catered lunch today at 11am, we were finished at 1pm, so Dr. Fang took me back to the hotel for a half-an-hour rest. Having awakened at 5am, I tried to rest but had too many things to think about. We left at 1:40pm for the University and lecture.

I was presented with a new poster that they made for me. It is pretty cute. There were 3 long tables at the front with around 60 chairs. I counted 50 people, including the 35 graduating students and new ones, plus some older visitors.

My lecture included Walking on the Line, Elephant Song, Little Miss Muffet and Book, How Much Do You Love Me? Amazingly, they already had that book translated into Chinese. The outline I gave my lecture was:

1. How I got into Montessori and our family

2. The history of our work, first in Taiwan, then Korea, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Kenya

3. What the special challenges have been in each country

4. How the Korean and Sri Lankan governments have sponsored training costs

5. What’s happening in Montessori in the US, and our courses there

6. Internships of 27 adults now in 20 schools

7. Challenges to Montessori philosophy today

a) Co-intervention and its effects on the children: dependence, lack of confidence, showing lack of trust in the child

b) Mistrust of some governments and teachers of the mixed-age practice

c) Circle misuse to delivery of lessons over materials and disrespect it shows to the youngest child; what to bring to circle instead of Montessori materials.

They presented Dr. Fang and Jane roses, and to me, sunflowers. I told that I am from the sunflower state.

Next came the presentation of 35 MTP Academic Certificates, one by one. The students were so thrilled to get them. I had signed individual album grade sheets for them (6×35) and it took about 2 hours of my life. There was one male, Daniel, who asked a group question, “How has Montessori education changed your family life?” I told about our dedication to children and teachers, and our vision to go into many countries.

I presented the certificates, and they hugged and thanked me. That was when I realized how important my coming was to them.

I spoke to them from Isaiah 61 regarding the Spirit of the Lord coming upon them and sending them out to the poor and powerless. Dr. Chen liked this because she has the dream for the indigenous women.

Jane and Dr. Fang took me to a Japanese restaurant where we were served in about 10 minutes. That was good because my eyes were drooping. I had Japanese beef and tempura and it was pretty good. I will be packing tonight and leaving tomorrow morning at 7:30am for Taipei to catch the afternoon flight to Guangzhou. It has been a whirlwind trip but I discovered the great work Jane is doing here and how much help Helen and Joanna also give her. They are the fruit of our work, too, and it is a blessing to see how dedicated and knowledgeable they are.