Montessori Plus School Kent WA

Montessori Teacher Preparation Kent WA

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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.

Travel Diary: Taitung, Taiwan – Friday, 03/25/2011

4-8 am: Read Hebrews and prayed. Then, wrote notes for the 3-hour speech, “Global Montessori,” for sixty people who want to know the latest of Montessori around the world. Ate in the fabulous buffet mostly fruit since the eggs were cold.
9:15am: Went to Dandelion Kindergarten of Director Yu-Fan Liu, her husband, and son, Eric. Eric took his business degree in CA and was our excellent translator 2 years. He will translate again for me.

Visited a toddler classroom with 7 children and 3 teachers, none trained so they were co-intervening.  The toddlers were amazing, however, in their ability to match picture to picture and replica to picture. We plan to give the training in Taiwan soon. First Jane Suchen Wang and Dr. Shu-Fang will go to Beijing this summer for the Birth-3, come back and begin training for the poor, indigenous tribes near Taitung U.

Jane got her 2 1/2 to 6 certificate in 1993, began training in Taiwan in 1994, and took her Birth-to-3 Course from MTP of WA, Kent, in 1998 (www.montessoriplus.org). She will be the teacher for the training. Dr. Shu-Fang Chen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Early Childhood Ed at National Taitung University where Jane is now completing her thesis for her Master’s Degree.

Had to climb up about 15 steps to the second floor but it was worth it because hallways overlooked the huge playground and had many plants.  It was like a garden. There were 4 classrooms with 2 put together for one set of equipment and a walk removed between.  I had trouble finding many 3’s but they were gone to music, I guess, just for the morning. Two years ago we were here and they only had single-age classrooms. Because I spoke to them about it, now they have mixed ages. The children were using a lot of Chinese language materials, made by Jane and her teachers. A little boy gave me Ritz cracker with jam between the two. Another boy used the knobbed cylinders by picking up the cylinder first, then just trying each socket. I asked Jane to give him a lesson, and she did, and the boy then looked up at me with a quizzical look. It was just amazing to see how dedicated the children were to their work and how well the new teachers and interns were doing. I was inspired to continue to work hard for children. One child cut an egg while the teacher bent down to watch.

Yu-Fang and Eric took us past their house about a block away, a small estate, and then onto an organic restaurant, vegetarian as well.  The owners also have a cancer hospital next door and supply good food to the patients as well as to the public. Amazing!  It is Catholic.  God does so many things through His children.

1-3pm: I rested but couldn’t sleep.
3-5pm: Jane and I met with Dr. Fang and planned the future of Montessori in Taiwan together, e.g., using Birth-3 DVD’s, bringing students  this summer to Kent, and going to the new Beijing course for Birth-3, etc. We are cooperating with Taitung U to give  2 1/2 to 6 level courses contained within the Taitung U curriculum. We plan to open a Birth-to-3 course also through Taitung U with the goal of helping young women, especially the indigenous tribal women who live near Taitung to know how to care for their young children in a Montessori way.

6-8pm: Dinner with Dr. Jane and her 12 year old son, Jane and Joanna.  We talked many spiritual things, Dr. Jane’s health, and the goodness of God in our lives. They all wish that Don were with us. Jane is spending every moment with the students at the U, getting the materials ready for the bowl test. She is very tired. I am finally waking up at a normal time (5am) and am feeling energetic and ready to go.
I took many pictures at the school and will share them later.

May God bless and lead us today and give the students a peaceful heart. Sharlet.

***

The Montessori students take all of their Montessori courses as part of their curriculum to graduate with a degree.  It is the only full Montessori program, leading to an international teaching certificate, in the country of Taiwan.  Dr. Shu-Fang supervises the course in Jane’s absence in the US and says that she sees the difference in the early childhood students after they take the course: they are focused, give attention to detail, have learned how to speak with respect to the children, and have a huge enthusiasm for teaching young children.

Work vs. Play

When you visit a Montessori classroom, you will probably hear the children say, “This is my work.” This concept is a foundational principle in Montessori education. I remember a new child’s words to his mother when she can back to pick him up:  “Guess what, Mom, we “work” here. We don’t “play”!  But how can it be that young children work, not play, in the Montessori classroom?

The concept of work for the young child is built upon Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy of “self-construction.” It is the child who constructs himself, not the adult.  It is the adult’s task to nurture and care for the child’s well-being in all areas of his development, but not to take the burden for it upon ourselves. As Dr. Montessori defined “work” for children, the child forms his personality and “builds himself” through his instinct and desire for work (Montessori, 1966). The child is like a beautiful plant, growing and blossoming according to his own biological plan. No one can change him into a different “plant” but yet he can wither or be scorched from lack or excess of care and attention.

In our Montessori classrooms, therefore, our children are surrounded in an environment where they satisfy their instinct of work through carefully-designed learning materials at their own pace. It is through a “purposeful play,” our children acquire skills that help them meet their intrinsic need for growth and development. For example, allowing a child to choose his own work, with as many repetitions as he wants to end the activity, enables the child to not only builds his self-confidence, but also helps him to perfect his inner life – his true desire as a human-being.

I remember hearing an experienced Montessori teacher respond to a parent’s question, “When will my child learn to read?”  He said, “He will begin to read when he wants to!” This concept of self-construction is very difficult for many parents to understand because they want to do everything for the child.  We must remember, “Whatever a child can do for himself, he should be able to do.”  Real love is allowing the child to grow in independence and self-confidence.