Thursday, October 30, 2008

Methods of Education

Philosophy Part ll
Assignment 4: Methods of Education
Evonne Liu

I’ve searched and studied methods about Reggio Emilia, Rudolf Steiner Waldorf, High/Scope, and Bank Street in past weeks. I found out that all of them contained similarities and differences when compared with Montessori’s. The Reggio Emilia Approach caught my attention more. It reminds me a special school in Taiwan that impressed me. The school was established by a group of parents who were all educated and had higher socioeconomic background. They designed the curriculum according to the children’s needs. The most important philosophy was that they looked at the children as young adults and respected their natural power. It was very different from traditional schools.
In the following paragraph I would like to comment on similarities and differences between Reggio Emilia Approach and Montessori Method.

1. Believe in children’s inborn powers and potential.

2. Believe that education could change the society; see in education the opportunity to
build a better society; and emphasis on educating the whole child.

3. Prepare environment which includes beautiful setting and warm-feeling of classroom;
natural materials are strongly valued. Environment is considered as a very important
part in children’s learning.

4. Experiential education: carefully designed and executed educational experiences that
are reconstructed and reflected upon in a variety of ways.

5. Constructivism: the idea that a child makes discoveries from his or her own
observations, explorations, and experiences, and then uses all of them to construct
understanding. Constructivists say that the child is the "maker of meaning".

6. Manipulability materials: believe that children are learning from their experiences.
7. Ownership of and self-directed learning: Montessori child has freedom to move in the
classroom and choose the work which he/she has been represented; Reggio Emilia’s
student is directly involved with the environment and with assorted learning
experiences, both of them would feel more invested and more excited about learning.

8. Education for life: develop children with live thinking and feelings.

9. Collaboration: To strengthen not only individuals, but the community as well. Promote
both a sense of group membership and the uniqueness of self.
10.Teacher document of children’s work in progress and interactions: Documentation is
used as assessment and advocacy.

1. The foundation of the school: Dr. Montessori created her philosophy and method
according to her medical training background and teaching experience; then, she
established the Montessori school. The Reggio Emilia was started by the Parents of the
villages around Reggio Emilia in Italy after World War ll to eliminate fascism. They continue to participate to ensure the schools reflect the values of the community. Then
late Loris Malaguzzi, leader, philosopher and innovator in education, who was then a young teacher, guided and directed the energies of those parents and several teachers. The Reggio Emilia approach is a city-run and sponsored system designed for all children from birth through six years of age.

2. Age group: The Montessori school children can be beginning for birth to 8th grade. The
Reggio Emilia approach designed for children from birth through six years of age.

3. The relationship: In Montessori school teachers design the curriculum according to
children’s need and interest. When it’s necessary the teacher will seek for parents’
support and help. Through many years of work the Reggio Emilia Approach has developed an education based on relationship. Parents are a vital component to the Reggio Emilia School. Parents are expected to take part in discussions about school policy, child development concerns, and curriculum planning and evaluation. The Reggio educators believe that children, teachers and parents are partners in learning.

4. Classroom setting: Montessori classroom has been divided by the shelves to several different areas which include: Practical Life, Sensorial, math, Language, Science,
Geography, and Art. The classroom filled with indoor plants. Sometimes it may have pets. Except the plants, The Reggio Emilia’s classrooms are differing to Montessori’s
classroom setting. Its classrooms are opened to a center piazza, kittens are open to view, and access to the surrounding community is assured through wall-size window, courtyards, and doors to the outside in each classroom. Entries capture the attention of both children and adults through the use of mirrors (on the walls, floors, and ceilings), photographs, and children’s work accompanied by transcriptions of their discussions. In each classroom there are studio spaces in the form of a large, centrally located atelier and a smaller mini-atelier, and clearly designated spaces for large-and-small-group activities. Throughout the school, there is an effort to create opportunities for children to interact. Thus, the single dress-up area is in the center piazza. These are quite different as Montessori’s setting.

5. Teacher certificate requirement: There are a lot of Montessori teacher training programs provided for people who want to become Montessori teachers; teachers certification standard and accreditation processes. Rather, the association that promotes Reggio Emilia worldwide encourages educators to reinterpret the approach based on their own cultural traditions with help from association volunteers and supporters who share their experiences with the international community. From the articles I read it said that no such certification exists for the Reggio Emilia Approach.
6. The structure of the method: The Reggio Emilia approach is not a formal model, like Montessori, with defined methods. The Montessori curriculum has covered each area which include refine children’s five senses through Sensorial area; training their independence, concentration, order, physical abilities through Practical Life area; creating logical thinking through Math area; as well as Language, science, Geography, and art areas. Each work links tightly and follows their sequence. They all help to build up a solid foundation for future learning. Educators in Reggio place the community and local culture at the centre of democratic, participatory learning. They believe that children have the right and the ability to express their thinking, theories, ideas, learning and emotions in many ways. Therefore, Reggio educators provide children with a wide range of materials and media, and welcome a diversity of experiences, so that children encounter many avenues for thinking, revising, constructing, negotiating, developing and symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings. They called it “the hundred languages of children”. In this way, these languages can include drawing, paint, clay, wire, natural and recycled materials, light and shadow, dramatic play, music and dance. They can also include expression with words through metaphors, stories or poems of the children’s interpretations and reflections about their experiences or through special design, such as maps and three dimensional constructions. In fact, there is not a separation between what it is considered traditionally artistic expression and academic education in the schools of Reggio Emilia.
I’ve learned so much after I studied these methods. I’m planning to visit and observe these schools one day then I’ll have a clearer concept about the way they operate the school.

Reggio Emilia:

Rudolf Steiner Waldorf: -

Bank Street:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Methods of Education

Philosophy Part II - Methods of Education
Amy Shao

The Reggio Emilia Approach is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment. The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching young children puts the natural development of children as well as the close relationships that they share with their environment at the center of its philosophy. Early childhood programs that have successfully adapted to this educational philosophy share that they are attracted to Reggio because of the way it views and respects the child. They believe that the central reason that a child must have control over his or her day-to-day activity is that learning must make sense from the child's point of view. To make it meaningful, it also must be of interest to the child. That is one way they have control over their learning.
The Waldorf curriculum is designed to be responsive to the various phases of a child's development. The era of human history being studied corresponds in many ways with the stage of development of the child. The total Waldorf curriculum has been likened to an ascending spiral: subjects are revisited several times, but each new exposure affords greater depth and new insights into the subject at hand.
The philosophy behind High/Scope, based on Jean Piaget's ideas, is that children should be involved actively in their own learning. They "learn by doing", often working with hands on materials and carrying out projects of their own choosing. The adults working with the children see themselves more as facilitators or partners than managers or supervisors. High/Scope's approach encompasses all aspects of child development and involves teachers and parents in supporting and extending children's emotional, intellectual, social, and physical skills and abilities. An important part of the High/Scope approach is the plan-do-review sequence. Children first plan what materials they want to work with and what they want to do (this can be done formally or informally in small groups). Only once they have made a plan, however vague, of what they want to do can they go and do it. Then, after this choice worktime, the children discuss what they have been doing and whether it was successful.
The Bank Street School for Children educates the whole child, the entire emotional, social, physical, and intellectual being, while at the same time, the child's integrity as learner, teacher, and classmate is valued and reinforced.
The Reggio Emilia approach is similar to Montessori in that it sees the environment as the center of its philosophy. Since Montessori believes that environment affects a child greatly, they can agree upon that point. However, Montessori believes in the teachers a bit more than Emilia. A child in the Montessori School, while having freedom, does not have the degree of freedom that a Emilia child has. This is to allow the teachers to guide the children. The Waldorf education deemphasizes formal learning in an early child’s lesson which I feel Montessori wants. There is no teaching of history or advanced mathematics, only watching the child learn through experience and mostly be probing and experimenting. However, the Waldorf Education has a teacher who stays with the students the entire eight years of education while the Montessori school does not employ this method. I think the High Scope School is very similar to Montessori in that the children learn by hands on activities and living day to day life. Also their education encompasses the whole child. However, they allow the children to make their own lesson plans. Montessori feels that teachers should guide the children more as to what to do since they are still young. Lastly, the Bank School for Children, like Montessori, requires teachers to educate the whole child, the entire social, physical and intellectual being. It is different than Montessori in that it is more of a traditional “school” than Montessori is.
Reggio Emilia
High Scope:
Bank Street:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quotes II

Rati Sivashankar

Assignment II Quotes – 2

Pg. 153

Quote 3:
Hence there are two tendencies: one is the extension of consciousness by activities performed on the environment, the other is for the perfecting and enrichment of those powers already formed. These show us that the period from three to six is one of “constructive perfectionment” by means of activity.

Example 3:

I have noticed very often when some days in school the children’s work period is interrupted by some well intentioned activities….almost always most of them will ask. ”When can we go back to work?” or “Will we go back to work soon?” These show us the incessant need the child has to be immersed in work until he perfects it and aids in his own development.

Pg. 190

Quote 4:

At this time (3 – 6) no one can “teach” the qualities of which character is composed. The only thing we can do is to put education on a scientific footing, so that children can work effectively without being disturbed or impeded.

Example 4:

I am not sure if this example is directly connected to the quote…..but I shall give it anyway…I was once at a birthday party of a friend of my daughter. They were all classmates at our school. It was held at one of these huge places where there are multiple parties on simultaneously. I was standing at a vantage point where I could see three separate rooms with children in each participating in a celebration. I saw that the group where the Montessori school children were there, it was peaceful, order reigned, and….they waited for someone to say the greeting before they started eating!! I will not elaborate the behavior of the other groups of children!


Hope to see you all tonight.....I have been having a trying few weeks on the personal front and I apologise to Molly and all of you for my irregularity in the Philosophy part.....Love Rati

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Peace Education Paper

Rati Sivashankar Philosophy II Assignment 3

Peace Education Paper

“Humanity today resembles an abandoned child who finds himself lost in the woods at night, and is frightened by the shadows and mysterious noises of the night. Men do not clearly realize what are the forces that draw them into war, and for that reason they are defenseless against them” – Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori believed that although most of humanity did not want war…wars came about anyway. She believed that in the building of our civilization a vital component has been left out; this being the child as a creative social factor. She believed that all civilizations had taken into account only the adult values of life and the child has never been given his rightful place. She said that childhood is an entity of its own and is in fact the other pole of humanity.

The child when his possibilities are realized will manifest his potential function as the builder of society.

When our environments provide a place for the child to do the work he is meant to do; construction of the adult-that-is-to-be then he will be able to fulfill his potentialities and construct a harmoniously developed human society.

I believe that peace education first and foremost begins within the teacher herself. I am reminded of a quote made by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I believe that as a teacher I have to first and foremost internalize and embody all aspects of peace; at the very least, tolerance. Ideally, I would have acceptance of all people and places. If I carry within myself negative energies…then it will definitely hinder any form of peace education I try to implement in my environment.

We already provide in our environment a sense of complete accessibility to the teacher in the event of any form of conflict between children, be it verbal, physical or even a wrongly perceived conflict. The teacher first addresses the “victim” of the interaction to find out her condition, then, gives both the children their own turn to convey what transpired. The teacher then asks/helps the child to express how she feels, while she asks the other child to observe the “victim’s” face and describe the expression on her face. E.g. “How does she look?” “Does she look happy?” The teacher then goes on to ask for suggestions on what can be done to make her feel better, in fact, we also ask the victim what would she like to happen for her to feel better. Once this has been done, I always end the interaction with how we are all members of a community and that we care for the same things and that we are friends even when we are different from each other. I invite them to shake hands and ask if they want hug each other.

We also have in our environment plants in abundance; which brings about not only the care of the plants but the awareness of them being around and how to treat them carefully and with respect and that they also have life. We also have fish. The presence of this fascinates the children and builds their awareness of other life forms. We actively recycle and explain to children about how paper comes from trees and the importance of conservation and recycling. We speak about water conservation and how we can help by not leaving the faucet open while we are scrubbing our hands.

I would like to incorporate actively reading books that embody the qualities of empathy and problem solving at a level that is appropriate for children.

Last but not the least; I believe that our environment offers the space for sowing the seeds of peace by first of all having a harmonious relationship between the adults in the environment and infusing the environment with grace, courtesy, respect and love for each other.

Peace Paper Ass.#3; Rati Sivashankar

Rati Sivashankar Philosophy II Assignment 3

Peace Education Paper

“Humanity today resembles an abandoned child who finds himself lost in the woods at night, and is frightened by the shadows and mysterious noises of the night. Men do not clearly realize what are the forces that draw them into war, and for that reason they are defenseless against them” – Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori believed that although most of humanity did not want war…wars came about anyway. She believed that in the building of our civilization a vital component has been left out; this being the child as a creative social factor. She believed that all civilizations had taken into account only the adult values of life and the child has never been given his rightful place. She said that childhood is an entity of its own and is in fact the other pole of humanity.

The child when his possibilities are realized will manifest his potential function as the builder of society.

When our environments provide a place for the child to do the work he is meant to do; construction of the adult-that-is-to-be then he will be able to fulfill his potentialities and construct a harmoniously developed human society.

I believe that peace education first and foremost begins within the teacher herself. I am reminded of a quote made by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I believe that as a teacher I have to first and foremost internalize and embody all aspects of peace; at the very least, tolerance. Ideally, I would have acceptance of all people and places. If I carry within myself negative energies…then it will definitely hinder any form of peace education I try to implement in my environment.

We already provide in our environment a sense of complete accessibility to the teacher in the event of any form of conflict between children, be it verbal, physical or even a wrongly perceived conflict. The teacher first addresses the “victim” of the interaction to find out her condition, then, gives both the children their own turn to convey what transpired. The teacher then asks/helps the child to express how she feels, while she asks the other child to observe the “victim’s” face and describe the expression on her face. E.g. “How does she look?” “Does she look happy?” The teacher then goes on to ask for suggestions on what can be done to make her feel better, in fact, we also ask the victim what would she like to happen for her to feel better. Once this has been done, I always end the interaction with how we are all members of a community and that we care for the same things and that we are friends even when we are different from each other. I invite them to shake hands and ask if they want hug each other.

We also have in our environment plants in abundance; which brings about not only the care of the plants but the awareness of them being around and how to treat them carefully and with respect and that they also have life. We also have fish. The presence of this fascinates the children and builds their awareness of other life forms. We actively recycle and explain to children about how paper comes from trees and the importance of conservation and recycling. We speak about water conservation and how we can help by not leaving the faucet open while we are scrubbing our hands.

I would like to incorporate actively reading books that embody the qualities of empathy and problem solving at a level that is appropriate for children.

Last but not the least; I believe that our environment offers the space for sowing the seeds of peace by first of all having a harmonious relationship between the adults in the environment and infusing the environment with grace, courtesy, respect and love for each other.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peace Education

Philosophy Part ll – Assignment 3
Peace Education Evonne Liu

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war. --------------------Maria Montessori

What is Peace Education? There are some good definitions as following:
1) Peace education is an attempt to respond to problems of conflict and violence on scales ranging from the global and national to the local and personal. It is about exploring ways of creating more just and sustainable futures.---R.D. Laing (1978)
2) Peace education is holistic. It embraces the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social growth of children within a framework deeply rooted in traditional human values. It is based on philosophy that teaches love, compassion, trust, fairness, co-operation and reverence for the human family and all life on our beautiful planet.---Fran Schmidt and Alice Friedman (1988)
The basic concept of peace education is that it is a remedial measure to protect children from falling into the ways of violence in society. It aims at the total development of the child. It tries to inculcate higher human and social values in the mind of the child. In essence it attempts to develop a set of behavior skills necessary for peaceful living and peace-building from which the whole of humanity will benefit.

Usually we assume that the more knowledge people have, the better they are. However history has evidenced that sometimes those “knowledge people” may bring onto the world terrible disasters. Under the present predicament there is a growing realization in the world of education today that children should be educated in the art of peaceful living. As a result, more and more peace concepts, attitudes, values and behavior skills are being integrated into the school curriculums in many countries. In tracing the recent development of peace education, we found out that Dr. Maria Montessori had already sensed its need and tried to tell the world her vision of peace education in the 1930s.

With the witness of the horrors of the First and Second World Wars, Dr. Maria Montessori and a few other educators saw the need for developing the humanistic side of education. In one of her public speeches, Montessori said:
Those who want war prepare young people for war; but those who want peace have neglected young children and adolescents so that they are un-able to organize them for peace. ‘
To her, a child was a promise of mankind; the child’s natural innocence has to be preserved from being sidetracked or spoilt by society. Peace is the guiding principle of man and nature. She looked at education as a tool for building World Peace. She thought education should involve the spiritual development of man and the enhancement of his value as an individual as he prepares the young people to understand the time in which they live. Peace education is more effective and meaningful when it is adopted according to the social and cultural context and the needs of a country. It should be enriched by its cultural and spiritual values together with universal human values while being globally relevant.
Committed to a nonpolitical platform, and a focus on the innate and positive forces of the human mind and spirit, Dr. Montessori rejected the view of peace as the condition achieved by avoiding war and with nonviolent resolution of political conflict. "Inherent in the very meaning of the work peace is the positive notion of constructive social reform," she wrote, adding that "society at present does not adequately prepare man for civic life," and that "establishing a lasting peace is the work of education." Far in advance of today's catchphrase "globalization," she noted that scientific advances had so linked world cultures that our universal social connections were made clear, and she set forth strategies for a "universal, collective effort to build the foundation for peace."
Dr. Montessori's peace initiatives have been continued by organizations such as the Montessori Peace Task Force, the Montessori Peace Institute and the American Montessori Society Peace Committee. These national and international groups promote peace education within the Montessori curriculum, connections between schools, and global peace initiatives. The theme of 2008 American Montessori Society annual conference is Educating for Peace & Social Justice. The concept of Peace Education has never been ignored.
Peace education is implicit in the Montessori curriculum and its manipulative materials. Peace has cultivated in the Montessori classrooms by combining the actual experience of peace and intellectual academic activities.
1) Peace experiences include: free choice-self respect, respect for others, cooperation, a non-competitive environment, conflict resolution, respect for the environment, identification with others, and self-control. Young children contribute to the peaceful classroom by respect for oneself, for other members of the community, for the living things in the classroom and for the environment; showing consideration to others, carrying things carefully, returning them to their place so others may use them, keeping materials orderly; respecting others' work spaces; controlling movement and sound, moving gracefully and carefully, using polite and respectful language and interrupting politely; and participating in the group circle, both as listener and speaker. These tools for expressing emotions respectfully and resolving conflict peacefully are also introduced within the classroom.
2) The academic activities in primary classes that the curriculum includes are: The Global view, Introduction to the world, Land and water forms, Continents, World maps, Plants of the world, Animals of the world, Peoples of the world, Fundamental needs of humans, Global comparisons, etc.. Young children place themselves in the natural and human world through the presentation of geographical materials, and cultural and scientific studies. These studies engender understanding and respect of different places, species, needs and beliefs, and are approached through art, music, history, second language, and science. It permits the student to study the history and science of the natural world, the beliefs and traditions of diverse world cultures, and to learn about and finally place herself within society as an active, contributing individual. All of these endeavors are guided by the school's all-encompassing guidelines: respect of self, respect of others; respect of the environment; and responsibility for one's actions and words.

Except the whole year round basis curriculum I’ve listed above, I would also like to emphasize on the following activities in my Peace Education curriculum.
* Preparation for teacher--In order for Peace Education to be run effectively, teacher
shall begin a process of inner awareness and transformation to purify her heart and render it burning with charity toward the child. The teacher becomes a model of peace, respect, humility, and unconditional love and acceptance for all children.

* Preparation for the environment--The classroom is carefully prepared to meet the unfolding needs of the children, to attract them aesthetically and to reflect a feeling of love, respect and peace. Once a child is involved in an activity, the child passes through deeper phases of concentration and eventually has the potential of reaching the supreme state of inner peace.

* Setting the time for Movement— This will help children become more aware of their body movements.

* Creating a classroom charter for daily duties-- The classroom community is served by daily tasks (cleaning, caring for plants and animals). This helps children become aware of their responsibilities and get use to help things around them.

* Peace corner and peace table-- Create a peace table to have peace and teach peace. A peace table may be an actual child-sized table, a couple of chairs in a corner of a room or a defined space where children can go to resolve a dispute with each other. The space might hold a decoration of a peace symbol, such as an olive branch, a dove, flowers or a similar meaningful object. Children in a quarrel can choose to go to the peace table, or classmates may suggest the children to resolve their issues at the peace table. After a few experiences of success with working through their problems, children probably won't need to be prompted to use the peace table. The peace table procedure follows. The child who feels wronged places one hand on the table, the other hand on her heart to indicate that the words being spoken are from the heart. The child looks at the other child, speaks that child's name, explains how she feels about what has occurred and what solution she would like to see happen. The other child has a turn, placing one hand on the table and the other hand on his heart. The dialogue continues, without outside interference, until an agreement is reached. If the children cannot resolve their disagreement, they may invite a mediator for example, a teacher or an older classmate. If the situation involves the entire classroom, the participants may ask for a meeting of the whole class where everyone listens to both sides of the disagreement and then is asked to speak in turn from the heart. When agreement is reached, the bell is rung to signal to the family or class that an accord has been reached. With the peace table, children learn that their point of view is important, that they will be listened to and that they will be treated with respect and fairness. In their negotiations at the peace table, children learn that arguments need to be settled with truth and good faith in order to ensure a harmonious home and a cooperative climate in their classroom. Peace is an individual choice. Using the words of a hymn, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

* Story telling—Effective storytelling has the power to awaken a deep desire for social justice by inspiring us to discover and fulfill our cosmic task. Children always like stories. Even very young children can be pursuaded to understand complex and sensitive subjects if they are presented in a thoughtfully prepared story.

* Clothing or Toy Drive—Donate the unused clothes to local charities to show we care about our community and other people.

*Recycling Paper— Everyone has a responsibility to keep the Earth green. We can protect and save our earth by reusing paper.

*Bird feeding—To show we respect food and care about others, one thing we can save our left over bread or crumbs, past them on a pine corn to then hang outside to feed birds.

Peace Education consists of providing opportunities and experiences for children to help then understand and access their spiritual essence, the source of peace within themselves. Schools can directly benefit by adopting peace education, as it helps the emotional development in children.

E.M. Standing. Maria Montessori – Her Life and Work. New York, Mentor,1957
Maria Montessori. Peace and Education

Friday, October 17, 2008

Peace Education

10/17/2008 Assignment 3
Philosophy Part II - Peace Education
Amy Shao

Montessori Peace Education and Lesson Plan
“Peace and Education” was the name of a lecture given by Maria Montessori in 1932 at Geneva. This theme, which was a new issue in the field of education. Education is a peaceful approach, and only in peace it can develop intelligence and love to their highest levels. “Education is the weapon of peace”, wrote Maria Montessori, and “peace is the basis for good education”. Maria Montessori's work, "Peace and Education”, stated that in order to set a spiritual rebuilding of the human race, we must go back to the child.

Montessori advocated that children are the “hope of peace for the world” and that we must learn to educate them in such a way that they will be able to develop their potential as human beings and reveal to us the spiritual embryo of humankind. As children become more self-aware, they begin to develop sensitivity and awareness for people of other cultures and the global environment. Montessori begins to develop a global sense of peace and harmony. They learn to accept and appreciate cultural differences that are crucial to the development of world peace.

Peace means no disorder, no oppression, no material and intellectual misery. A child is a protagonist to a need for peace where all positive urges of life can be satisfied. A child should maintain this attitude at home as well as school. In the home, a child can develop and grow supported in his or her constructive nature. This new eventuality was identified by Maria Montessori when a “Home for Children” was established, where children learning in a natural way, following self-discipline principles, and where they achieve results featuring excellent educational and cultural values. Educating, said Maria Montessori, means helping life to take new, wider paths through experience, with joy, fraternity attitudes, longing for good, and responsibility.

In order for children to enjoy peace, the teacher must make the classroom appropriate. The classroom setting for 3- to 6-year-olds should offer space, materials, and opportunities for harmonious and interactive play. It teaches the children to choose their words carefully, keeping in mind the feelings of others. It actively promotes and encourages peace in Montessori classrooms by having a peace corner or a peace rose as a symbol of working together to work out problems. The teacher should make sure thier language is positive and inclusive of all children. They encourage active listening by utilizing the “one voice at a time” rule. Planned program or curriculum activities can also enhance the peaceful classroom. Children's literature can be a powerful vehicle for strengthening communication skills and teaching peaceful conflict resolution. Therefore, books used with children should be screened and evaluated beforehand to determine the values they convey about peace and conflict. Some books can provide information that children can use to solve their own problems of dealing with anger.

One lesson plan I found/modified was the “Great Tree of Peace”. Since words contain a lot of power, that power is like that of in a seed. Power makes the seed grow into a great tree causes tender green plants to rise up out of the dark graves and break through a blacktop crust. Every time a word about peace is read or spoken, a thought of peace stirred, or an image of peace created in the mind, peace comes a little closer. Quotations are like seeds of peace that are suitable for "direct sowing." First they need to be composted in the thought process of the mind-where they can be allowed to germinate, push through the soil and make their presence known. We, ourselves, have contributed "seeds of peace" through their words of wisdom based on life experience and deep reflection. The main focus of this activity is to find peace in our daily lives and learn peace ideas from those who have gone before us. All you need is some handwriting paper, books from the library on peace, and age appropriate quotes like “Peace is all around us,” by Thich Nhat Hahn.

Dr. Montessori said “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” We can celebrate and honor our veterans best by promoting non-violence and peace within our Montessori classrooms, our families, our communities, and our world.

The Absorbent Mind 2

Assignment 2 continued - The Absorbent Mind
Chapters: 25- 28
Feng Mei

Chapter 25: You use instinct and knowledge to educate a child and do not try to break his will then build it up again, that is an old way of thinking.

Chapter 26: The teacher must be strict in her discipline, however she must not be strict as to inhibit the growth of the child.

Chapter 27: The teacher must be prepared to teach the class for this is the very basic steps one must take to teach the students

Chapter 28: The absorbent mind welcomes everything and puts hope in everything, this is the child.

Email Posts

Peace Curriculum and Educational Systerms Comparisons should be emailed to group members.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Grainne's Comparison/links


Reggio Emilia:
What Every Parent Should Know about Alternative Education

Reggio Emilia
Montessori said "follow the child" but this seems to be taken to that extreme. The curriculum is completely chosen by the child and guided with parent and teacher cooperation. The part I found very interesting is that Reggio Emilia seems to have a greater emphasis on art in the curriculum.

I was also curious about Waldorf because people have said to me that it is a lot like Montessori. I do see a similarity in the belief that children pass through stages of learning and that learning changes with age. There seems to be a great emphasis on the arts, creative movement, storytelling and imagination, possibly more than Montessori.

D. Torrens Peace Education 3-6 Curriculum

Diamira Torrens
Peace Education Curriculum
3-6 Classroom

- From the beginning of the year the children should be taught Grace and Courtesy reminding the older children and teaching the new children.
- When a conflict occurs the child should be taught to address the other child and express his feeling. When a child in unable a teacher may help “speak” for them.
- If someone is hurt physically the child can help hold the ice on the hurt child.
- In the geography area cultures should be expanded on brining in parents of different cultures to introduce the children to different food, music, dance or anything related to that culture.
- The older children that are writing can write stories on how to deal with someone who hurt us or how to treat others. Scenarios can be given to encourage them to think about others feelings.
- A jar shall be placed in the classroom that can hold small notes of random acts of kindness, small children can dictate to the teacher what they have seen, older ones can write them and teachers can also write what they have witnessed. They can be read during circle time.
- The silence game will be played often, sometimes outdoors so the child can become aware of the world around him.
- Giving responsibility to the children to take care of the class pet and learning to be careful.
- Read books about friendship and kindness often.
- Teach the children about inner peace and controlling their breathing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grainne's peace curriculum continued

There are many ways a teacher can bring an awareness of peace into the classroom. The teacher must decide what methods speak to her and that she is most comfortable with. Since art is my area of expertise I would implement a peace curriculum that revolves around art making. I believe that creating art is a very spiritual experience. I think that this method is effective because as Picasso said "All children are artists". I would design my curriculum on three different ways to bring out the artist’s spirit and learn about peace: Art Happenings, Art and Nature, Art and Culture. These approaches to art and peace could be introduced in any order.

A happening is a group experience in which the act of making art is emphasized not the end result. In a happening "whatever happens, happens, there are no mistakes" as my high school art teacher used to say. The children would experience one medium in each happening. For example, clay is a wonderful medium that really puts you in touch with your senses. The children would sit in a circle and be given a lump of clay each. I would narrate the experience, "Feel the clay’s texture, is it smooth or lumpy? Is it warm or cool? What does it smell like?…." Next we would mold the clay with our hands and join the clay together with the person’s clay on each side to create a circle. At the end all the clay is thrown back into a bucket together to be used again in the future. There are many happenings I have done with paper and pencil. A couple examples of this would be having the children sit in a circle, listen to a story and draw with their eyes closed or draw in response to different kinds of music. The drawings are not saved, as the point is the experience to put you in touch with your mind and soul not the end result. The possibilities are endless. At my summer camp we painted using powder paint and ice-the kids were enthralled!

Art and Nature holds much possiblity as well. I designed a curriculum for my summer camp in which all the projects involved objects from nature or recycled objects. The children got to collect their own materials on nature walks and turn them into art when they returned to the classroom. We read books on nature and recycling. Through art the children learned to appreciate nature and save the planet. We made water bottle bird feeders, take-out top sun catchers and cereal box paintings. These ideas can also be tied into a science curriculum. My favorite experience was making our own paper. Everyone was able to help in the process. Everyone had to work together, take turns, be gentle with the wet pulp and benefit from the end result-which was shared by all. We mixed grasses and dried flowers into the wet pulp- what wonderful textures we created! Then we turned the paper into a camp scrapbook with all the children’s pictures and comments.

Learning about different cultures through art is also a favorite of mine (since I was an art history teacher). There are so many opportunities to explore other cultures through their art. We have studied Mexico by making pinch pots, Japan by making paper mache cats, Italy by painting a ceiling (really the underside of a table but they got the ideaJ ). Art is a valuable part of a society and is a way to tie people together and teach tolerance and diversity. The artifacts in any culture teach us much about the people and how they live/d. The arts bring out the spiritual side of every society. Making art requires the hands and brain to work together. As Montessori explained in the Absorbent Mind, it is the people who used not only their minds but their hands who have left their mark for future societies. "For if men had only used speech to communicate their thought, if their wisdom had been expressed in words alone, no traces would remain of past generations. It is thanks to the hand, the companion of the mind, that civilization has arisen."(AM151)

Diamira Torrens Peace Education

Diamira Torrens

Peace Education

Living through two world wars can leave an impact on a person’s feeling for humanity, Maria Montessori was that person. She watched the hatred between people and felt that the only way to resolve and improve our future was through the child. Montessori was much respected in her work and made an impact in introducing Peace Education. She believed if we taught children compassion and respect from birth they would carry it with them and build a better society.
As in all aspects of the classroom the preparation must begin with the teacher “…to purify her heart and render it burning with charity toward the child.”(1) The classroom should be prepared to show a feeling of tranquility and love. Peace education, in part, is an extension of Grace and Courtesy. The teacher should be approachable so the child can trust to come to her when they feel they cannot handle a conflict on his own. A child should also be taught to reflect on his feelings and speak for himself, if needed, the teacher can help verbalize what they are feeling. It is the teacher’s responsibility to teach then to respect each other for their differences.
Sometimes I look at our little school and think of it as a Utopia, I wish full hardly that what they experience in this nurturing environment they can carry to the world and make a difference. There are several things we do already and some we have implemented recently. When a child has a problem with another child be in fighting (physically or with words) usually one child will find a teacher to tell the teacher what the other child has done. The teacher then takes the child back and tells the child to explain how they feel about what has been done to them, they both have a chance to express their feelings and resolve their problem if a resolution is needed, with time the children will learn to handle the situation on their own and can be moderators to younger children in a conflict. I’ve never felt that “I’m sorry” expresses as much concern as asking the other person if they are ok or what they can do to make them feel better or right their wrong. When a child is physically hurt by another (lets say pushed down on the playground) we ask the child to stay with the hurt child and maybe hold the ice if they are hurt until they feels better. This process teaches them compassion and also what their actions have caused. I would like to implement in the classroom a jar that a teacher or child can write a random act of kindness that is seen, and these acts can be read during circle time, for example: “during the morning I saw John give Jane a paper towel at the sink to dry her hands.” This will make a child more aware of the world around them. Reading books about peace and friendship is something else I’d like to do. I would also like the children to write stories about how to treat others; this will allow them to express their feelings, giving a scenario and how they would resolve it is also an idea for their writing. As part of our geography area we should have more about different cultures and religions so that children become aware that there is more to their world and to learn to respect others for their differences. We have a very diverse group of children and it would be wonderful if their parents could share about their culture and ethnicity as well, having different culture days, learning about holidays, food or traditions will teach tolerance.
Teaching the children to have inner peace is just as important. I would do this by teaching them about their bodies and about breathing and relaxing and how to use it when we feel angry or frustrated. Even though we do practice the “silence game” I would frequently so they can become aware of their surroundings and relax and listen to the world around them. I would love to do this outdoors sometimes and listen closer to the sounds they hear and then discuss them. I would also like to have the children learn more about our classroom pet and its care.
What a difference we can make in the lives of the children we are entrusted. The only hope we have for our future and theirs is that they can carry what they learn and spread it to others. Using the philosophies Maria Montessori has established we have a chance to make a difference.

(1) E.M. Standing Maria Montessori – Her Life and Work, New York, Mentor, 1957
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Assignment II (ch:15 - 28 )

Rati Sivashankar

Assignment 2 Absorbent Mind – Chapters: 15- 28

Chapter 15:

The very young child’s efforts are not towards imitating but to forming in himself the capacity to imitate; thus exhibiting to the world the universal importance of indirect preparation.

Chapter 16:

The child before the age of three unconsciously creates himself by absorbing the environment (hence, he has no memory of it); after three he deliberately and consciously acts on his environment to construct himself.

Chapter 17:

The child in the postnatal/psychological period of his embryonic life absorbs from the world around him the basic patterns of his social group and they remain with him as fixed characters for the rest of his life.

Chapter 18:

The normal development of a child in any of the three stages before the age of 18 has its foundation in the previous stage; hence the more fully the needs of one period are met, the greater will be the success of the next….this unfortunately is true in the reverse too!

Chapter 19:

The child when given the freedom has the power to choose his work spontaneously and keep herself occupied with deep concentration, joy and serenity; this arrival of discipline from freedom is the evolving of a psychological type common to the whole of mankind.

Chapter 20:

A child between the ages of three and six carries out gradually the work of building his own character; what the adult can do is put education on a scientific footing so that the child can work effectively without being disturbed or impeded.

Chapter 21:

In the formation of the child’s character nature plays a pivotal role; we can observe in the child initially the trait of concentration followed by perseverance (normalization), one of the flawed character traits that disappear after this is possessiveness (possess to lose it or break it) and this is instead replaced by a secondary possessiveness which is the interest in knowing how things work.

Chapter 22:

The children in a multi age classroom unravel from within themselves the quality of concentration which in turn gives rise to the virtue of patience; these are key components in the development of character and social behavior.

Chapter 23:

The children in a 3 – 6 environment slowly become aware of forming a community and their activities contribute toward it; once they have reached this level they put the group first and try to succeed for its benefit.

Chapter 24:

When the children make an error in our environment other children become the bearers of corrections; this forms a unity among all children.

Chapter 25:

The three levels of obedience in a child are 1) the level of obedience is one in which the child can obey, but not always; a period in which obedience and disobedience seem to be combined. 2) The level in which the child can absorb another person’s wishes and express them in his own behavior. 3) The child becomes enthusiastic, anxious and impatient to obey; this comes about with his obedience being turned toward a personality whose superiority he feels.

Chapter 26:

The task of the teacher is to enable the emergence of discipline in the children by not only preparing the environment where she is in a role of service, but also, to know to be firm when the spirit of the children need awakening and effort to pull them back on track when they digress from the path.

Chapter 27:

The teacher in a Montessori class must have faith that the child will reveal himself through work; she works on this via the following three aspects;
1. Watch over the environment and be its keeper and custodian.
2. To be able to entice children in a timely and appropriate fashion to work or use soothing techniques to calm them.
3. Know when not to interrupt or interfere with a child who is concentrating on a piece of work.

Chapter 28:

The child is the only point on which there converges from everyone a feeling of gentleness and love; the child is a well-spring of love.

Lori Daniels Peace Education

Lori Manzino-Daniels
Peace Education

“Peace education is directed to the free development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”(1)
As directresses we try and extend the messages of equality, acceptance and respect for everyone and everything around us. We guide the children through the modeling of our own behaviors inward and outward by the usage of patience and kindness with every occurrence within the environment. Encouragement in sharing thoughts and ideas through open discussions is practiced in our classroom, daily, as well as eliciting further oral communication in our language area by using open ended questions as we work with each child.
The children also freely express themselves non-verbally through the materials in practical life and sensorial. The activities are inviting and therapeutic in nature for the child as they are prepared by using various colors and textures to entice and engage the child. This aids them in the use of their minds and bodies through manipulation of the materials. We will strive to incooperate further materials working toward the cooperation of the mind and body as one entity for the child to explore.
Taking turns and sharing is practiced everyday in our classroom as well as during free play. The children learn respect for others time and length of work through observing and exercising patience. The simple lessons of grace and courtesy are exercised, daily, and extend outward into the other areas of the classroom to include peace making skills. Taking care of oneself and the environment reinforces love and respect for oneself as well as those around them. We will also extend our care of the environment from the classroom to the out of doors in nature that surrounds our school to include seasonal plantings as well as wildlife watching in our area.
We will try an extension of the already exercised silence game to include different music played; other than that which is quietly used all session long. We would also like to accompany this with a breathing exercise to help center the child’s mind and body before work time.
In our cultural and geography areas we will be discussing other countries to include their customs and beliefs. We will talk with the children about the similarities and differences that may notice. The heightening of the child’s awareness of others may help them to feel more comfortable with the “goings on” around the world. With this, a realization that we are all more alike than they might have previously thought prior may bring about a more conscious awareness of others feelings and basic needs around the world.
We also have an area for quiet thinking which is part of our language area. It is here, children may listen to or read a book; it is also an area for conflict resolution to take place. Children use their communication skills to express their differences and resolve the issue at hand on their own with a plan of action for the next (potential) conflict to be resolved. All this with gentle guidance from the teacher. We found, that the children seem more apt to implement their own resolutions that they discovered rather than that from the adult.
The children are also free to use their imagination and develop their individual creativities in the area of art in the classroom. Children seem to enjoy painting and drawing pictures, it services their inner feelings which help them to express themselves. The children take turns using the easel; on occasion they even complement the work of their friends. The self-expression displayed through use of their artistic talents is priceless. We will also try and incorporate art expression from the countries that we will explore, into the art area to aid in heightening the child’s awareness.
We will continuously try to create a welcoming, calm, accepting environment for all who enter. We will continue to observe and learn from the child as they observe and learn from us. We will work together in communicating our thoughts and ideas to create a peaceful union for all. We must remember to look inward and reflect upon the experiences of each day and use this reflection time as a tool to bring us closer to a more spiritual union of our mind and body leading us closer to perfection.
“Of course, this peace of inner illumination is not accomplished overnight; it is a continual process of self-observation, discrimination, and purification until one is able to experience true peace. Peace then becomes our inner teacher, our guide, and our inspiration that allows us to move out into the world in harmonious relationship with everyone and everything.” (2)
By following this, we can spread our message of peace throughout the world, one being at a time, beginning with the child.

Foot Notes

1. Article 26, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2. Historical Peace Education by Sonnee McFarland. Montessori Connections.
Peace Education
Grainne Bellotti
Philosophy 2

"Inherent in the very meaning of the word peace is the positive notion of constructive social reform…society at present does not adequately prepare man for civic life…establishing a lasting peace is the work of education." Maria Montessori

"Within the child lies the fate of the future." Maria Montessori

Montessori saw that the small child held all the possibilities for a better future for our world. Every time a child is born there is a new opportunity to create a perfect member of society. Montessori observed that young children held the best characteristics of man and brought out the best qualities in adults. The Montessori classroom is designed to bring out these positive characteristics seen in all children. Children’s natural tendencies toward order, concentration, kindness, compassion, beauty etc. are nurtured within this environment. The classroom has a peaceful atmosphere where the children feel safe, loved and can become their best selves.
In order for this to be possible it all must begin with the teacher. She must be committed to creating a harmonious and peaceful classroom. The teacher must be the model of peace, respect, harmony and unconditional love for all children. She must create a beautiful, organized and loving environment. The children must be shown how to treat the materials and how to treat one another. Children are expected to respect all the people in the room. By example the child learns to love, trust and be kind to others. He is shown how to work quietly, wait his turn, respect other’s space and ask permission to watch someone work.
The child is also given problem solving skills. The teacher must have a method for conflict resolution. There could be a table for two children to meet at and talk about their conflict. The teacher should model or guide the conversation so that each party is heard and a resolution can be agreed upon. Once the problem is solved the children can ring a bell or shake hands to signify this moment of peace-making. Because these skills are being taught at the 3-6 year old level they will stay with him for life.
Respect for others can be extended into geography. An awareness of all the different cultures of the world is important in our global society. For example when studying the United States there is an opportunity to learn about the Native Americans, who were a very spiritual people who had great respect for our planet. Their art, music and culture can be learned through books and music.
Respect for others extends to the classroom materials and environment. The child is taught how to handle the materials carefully and quietly. The materials in the room are beautiful and made of good quality. The children know that they are being trusted with special objects that other children will need to use. They learn to set up their materials and to clean up after themselves so that the next person will have the same opportunity to work that they had. They are also taught how to care for plants and animals. Every classroom should have plants or animals that the child can learn to care for. Montessori believed that the more children learned about the care of plants and animals the more gentle and caring they were as a whole.
I believe it is important to introduce the idea of recycling. This will teach the children to respect the earth and all we have. Using recycled materials in art is something fun and practical that my students have enjoyed and learned a lot from. Kids can make their own paper from paper scraps or make a bird feeder from an old water bottle to hang in the garden.
Refinement of the senses is important in creating a peaceful environment. Montessori saw the value in sensorial education. In the chaotic over stimulated society we live in this is a lost art. Through sensorial awareness children are trained to have sharp senses and appreciate the subtleties in life. The silence game is a unique opportunity for the child to experience calm. They can share a special moment that is created by the group working together to make silence. Their ears can pick up the little sounds that occur that we might seldom notice.
Many classrooms have a Peace Table where the child can go to have a peaceful reflective moment by himself. This area might have a poster of the planet earth or a painting of a dove. It might also have a book on nature or a story about peace. There could be a crystal to refract the light and create a rainbow of color or an object to touch and hold like a beautiful rock. The teacher can also play peaceful music in the background while children are working. If possible there should be a spot outside for the same purpose. In our school we have a children’s garden with walking paths, a NSEW rock, a birdhouse and a quiet bench. This is the children’s space to go and enjoy a moment alone with nature.
There is no one way to teach Peace. There are many ways a teacher can bring an awareness of peace into the classroom. The teacher must decide what methods speak to her and that she is most comfortable with.

The Absorbent Mind By Maria Montessori
Nurturing the Spirit in Non-Sectarian Classrooms by Aline Wolf
Holistic Peace Education from the American Montessori Society Position on Peace Education
Peace Curriculum from the Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School website

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review of Educational Methods

Methods of Education
Trish Wymore

I looked briefly into five other popularly known educational methodologies: Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Magda Gerber, High/Scope, Bank Street, and Quaker schools. Most share some similarities with Montessori, although in my opinion, none so eloquently provide a total framework for the development of the whole child. What I found interesting is that many of the methodologies cite the work of Jean Piaget as a basis for their work.
I was least impressed with the information I could find on High/Scope. Their foundation's website left me feeling like it was little more than an attempt to franchise a particular set of popular educational semantics. It is probably widely known because it is being marketed heavily and cleverly. But for all the hype, I found little substance.
I was most impressed with the works of Magda Gerber and her RIE approach (resources for infant education). She was an expert at following infants and coined the name educarer for adults working closely with infants. Gerber believed that infants have special attributes that need the proper environment in which to unfold. She said, “Children are not things to be molded but persons to be unfolded.” She advocated creating an environment for infants in which they would be less rushed and allowed to unfold at their own pace. She advised parents to, “Do less; observe more; enjoy most.”

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Spirituality of the Teacher Aline Wolf

This is an excellent explanation of what "the spirituality of the teacher" in Montessori means with practical suggestions for developing it.

Peace Education Paper

Hi everyone! I am not trying to make any points here......I just won't be available from now until classtime on Wednesday due to holidays. Here's my paper, I look forward to any comments or suggestions!

Peace Education in My
3-6 Montessori Classroom
by Tricia Wymore

“If education recognizes the intrinsic value of the child's personality and provides an environment suited to spiritual growth, we have the revelation of an entirely new child, whose astonishing characteristics can eventually contribute to the betterment of the world”1

Maria Montessori's educational work is known throughout the world primarily through her interesting academic materials that can easily be examined and manipulated. But it is much harder to understand her theories about the spiritual nature of the child. And while these very theories are fundamental to her work with children, they are the most difficult for teachers, administrators, and parents to discuss. Several reasons can explain this difficulty. In her book, Nurturing the Spirit, Aline Wolf points out that administrators don't often write or talk about the spiritual work in their schools because a “child's spirit cannot be demonstrated to parents in the same way that the moveable alphabet or golden beads can be used as illustrations of hands-on academic activities” (p. 3). Wolf also notes that parents are quick to inquire about the sounds their child is learning or the math materials being learned. Very rarely will a parent inquire about the spiritual growth of their child. And a final reason reason Wolf cites, is that many Montessori schools in America are non-sectarian and the teachers are very careful to avoid activities that might be regarded as religious in nature (p. 4).
Until relatively recently, I had little understanding of peace education and had not specifically included it in my classroom. In this discussion, I will attempt to outline a three-step peace curriculum for myself and my classroom to introduce during the remainder of this year. I have been influenced heavily by the works of Aline Wolf, including the work cited above.
In my school I am the administrator, the teacher, and also a parent of one of the students. And while these are three very important hats to wear, each with their own responsibilities, I am also very fortunate. I can create and implement all of the policies and methods I wish to use. In addition, my school is not secular. We are a Jewish orthodox girls school, with a very definite religious curriculum. As a teacher, I do not have to worry about any activity being regarded as religious. In fact, I have a bit of the opposite problem. My community can be weary of outside influences and anything that might be “too secular”. A big part of my job as the administrator, is to assure parents that Montessori methodology does not conflict with our religious practices or beliefs. Interestingly, what many parents regard as religious activities for their young children, have very little to do with nurturing a deep spirituality as Aline Wolf outlines in her work. As I begin to create a peace education curriculum for my classroom, I will first focus on nurturing the spirituality in myself and the children and defining that work for parents.
In The Secret of Childhood, Montessori tells us, “One who would become a teacher according to our system must examine himself and rid his heart of pride and anger. He must learn how to humble himself and be clothed with charity” (p. 187). The first step in creating my school's peace education curriculum, will be the careful and systematic review of my own character traits. I have already started this work with a psychologist in a group setting for parents. Last summer I joined a “parenting workshop” that turned into a weekly group therapy session! We delve into the most difficult topics of raising and teaching children and uncover our own issues and hidden hurts that have not been healed from our own childhood. Several times during this class, I have come to understand certain reactions I've had in the classroom based on unresolved emotions from my own childhood. I have started to become aware of my own character defects and taken concrete steps to heal them. Since participating in this weekly group, I have become a stronger and more centered teacher (and parent!). The next step I wish to take, is to participate in at least one other activity to specifically nourish my soul. Most likely it will be a yoga class that I am trying to arrange at the school so other parents and staff can attend as well.
The second step in my peace curriculum is to carefully examine the physical classroom, both inside and outside, and make any needed adjustments. Aline Wolf believes that the first step toward peace is to create an environment that cultivates stillness. “It is almost impossible for one's spirit to thrive in the constant din and hubbub of daily life. Some special places and special times must be set aside for quiet – for one to be open to one's inner voice”2 Wolf outlines various activities and spaces in the classroom. One suggestion I will implement is a “quiet corner” where one child can go to sit and contemplate. There is already a table in the classroom that looks out onto the yard, and with some creative furniture arranging, I will be able to make it more of a secluded spot. Our classroom is on the second floor and looks right out into old maple trees that are just beginning to have their leaves change color. In the morning, the classroom is already awash in autumn colors. This spot will be just perfect for watching, thinking, and being. Another suggestion for an activity is a rock garden. We have a small one already on the shelf. But I am going to make it a bit larger, and introduce it it more fully in it's cultural context. Outside, we have a wonderful children's garden. In the spring, we will plant climbing flowers around a trellis that surrounds a bench. This will create a natural private space in the garden for quiet contemplation. We already have several spots on our playground where one or two children can go for quiet walks and exploration. Our garden is visited everyday and the chicken coop is another place where the girls will sit down to quietly observe the chickens.
The third step of my initial peace curriculum efforts will be to introduce the “peace flower” conflict resolution technique. With this technique, two children who are having a disagreement, use a flower (real or silk) to help them discuss the issue. (Prior to introducing this technique the children and I have focused on saying things that begin with “I”, like “I don't like it when.....) The child holding the flower speaks and hands the flower to the other child when she is finished. The second child now has a chance to speak. The children continue in this matter until the matter is resolved. At the conclusion, both children agree to make “shalom” and place the flower back in the vase. Initially, I will be involved with the mediation to help the children get the hang of it. Eventually however, my hope is that the children will be able to use this on their own, or have a third child act as their mediator. I have already used this technique once, with amazing results. While I have always talked things through and helped the children come up with alternate solutions for the future, it never felt satisfactory to anyone. I see now that it was mostly me doing the talking and the children never had an opportunity to use their own words and express their own feelings to each other. When I used the flower technique with two girls who were involved in a physical dispute recently, we all came away feeling empowered! The girls made shalom, and immediately went back to the area on the playground that they had been using before. This time, they used a strategy that they had come up with to avoid the misunderstanding they had before. The next day, one of the girls' mothers reported that her daughter told her of the “fight” and reported that they played nicely afterwards. That was a first for this particular girl, and she felt the difference deeply!
My initial steps toward including peace education into my curriculum this year are: recognizing and healing my own character weaknesses as well as nurturing my own spirituality through an activity like yoga, building places and times for stillness in our classroom, and helping the girls to negotiate conflicts with the use of the “flower technique”. It is my hope that as we integrate these changes, we will be ready for a new level of peace education next year.

1Montessori, Maria Peace and Education, pp.20-21
2Wolf, Aline Nurturing the Spirit in non-sectarian classrooms, p. 59

Thursday, October 9, 2008

el Philosophy Discussion

Feng Mei---I like the way you redirected the child to explore different areas in the classroom. We had a very similar case like this one. Our girl’s name begins with E, too. She was 3 years old. She loved art very much. Every afternoon after arrival to school her first choice would be art work. Her drawing had a lot details and very colorful. Her art piece always came with a story. She was full of imagination and very sensitive. We did try to redirect her to different areas but wasn’t very successful. She had strong willing and easy to cry. This year when I saw her in another class, she seemed much calm and more flexible in the class.

Diamira– I truly agree with Montessori’s point of view. My daughter was born in this country; however we spoke Chinese with her most of time. By the age of three, she knew only some common words but no sentences. She got 99 percentages on her standard test in third grade. It was so amazing that she mastered English in that short period.

Grainne—I had a very similar situation as yours. My son was a happy baby. He smiled a lot. He was very organized and self-disciplined. Every time when he came in the house, he put his shoes together and the front side always toward to outside. When it was 8pm, without any reminder, he would climb into his bed to sleep automatically. That was his nature power without anyone to teach him. When he reached to three many times we couldn’t understand him. We need to ask him to repeat. He did several times and got very frustrated. Sometimes we need to ask for my daughter’s help. I regret that I did not read this book “Absorbent Mind” at that time, otherwise, I may be able to give him more help.

Philosophy Part ll: The Absorbent Mind

Philosophy Part ll
Evonne Liu
Assignment ll:
Outline of The Absorbent Mind

14. Intelligence and The Hand
Man’s hand has followed his intellect, spiritual life, and emotions; the development of manual skill keeps pace with mental development. Man’s hand expresses his thought and the marks it has left betrays his presence. Hand is related to personality. A child’s character can be full developed if he has opportunities to apply his powers of movement to his surroundings. The child will become independent if adults never give more help than is absolutely necessary.

15. Development and Imitation
The activity gives child the practice he needs for coordinating his movements. A one and a half child is already making efforts to express what he has in mind and begins to imitate. Before he can imitate, he must to prepare for doing so. Sometimes what the child tries to do may seem absurd to adult, but he shall be free from interruption and be able to finish the activity which his heart is set. This indirect preparation is important for the child since it forming in him the capacity to imitate. This preparation derives from the efforts he has been making. After he is prepared that he can imitate adults, then his surroundings can inspire him.

16. From Unconscious Creator to Conscious Worker
The child is entirely dependent on adult before age three. It’s a highly creative period; various powers develop which include physical and mental. The child absorbs his surrounding environment that seems to hide within him. However we fail to recall what happens in this unconscious period. From age three to six the child begins a period of real constructiveness. He is guided by his consciousness now. He wants to master his environment and find therein the means for his development. The child shall be freely to use his hands to handle the means of activities performed on the environment. The hidden powers he created previously will show themselves at this time. The child’s whole personality will be changed and become independent. This is the whole aim of education that a man can be independent in his powers and character,

17. Further Elaboration Through Culture and Imagination
Between three and six the child’s mind can acquire culture by certain kinds of activities which involve movement. We all have inborn attractions which cause us to grow and to develop, in accordance with that nature which is ours alone. The child seems to be happier, have deep interests, and eager for knowledge when he can free to choose the various means of activities we had provided. During this period the child has formed an imaginative power. This higher mental power helps him to learn those things that are not directly visible
All activities may seem like a play for the child. But this kind of play is effortful and leads him to acquire new powers which will be needed in his future.

18. Character and Its Defects in Childhood
Some studies show us that the child’s character is resulting from his own individual efforts. It’s depending on his vital creative energy and on the obstacles he meets with in daily life. If we divide the life to periods according to the guise of human behavior, each period is basically different from the other two; nevertheless each lays the foundation for the one following it. If obstacles intervene occurred and caused difficulties after birth they will be less severe than those caused during gestation; but these will not be so serious as those derived from nocuous influences operative at conception. All defects have their repercussions on mental life and on intelligence. For a healthy character formation, the child needs to work at an interesting occupation: they should not be helped unnecessarily, nor interrupted, once he has begun to do something intelligent.

19. The Child’s Contribution to Society—Normalization
When children are placed in surroundings which permit them to evolve an orderly activity, they come to have an impression of perfect disciplines. Work and freedom are normally needed for the child’s development. An interesting piece of right work, freely chosen which has the virtue of inducing concentration, adds to the child’s energies and mental capacities, and leads him to self-mastery.

20. Character Building Is the Child’s Own Achievement
Children construct their own characters, building up in themselves the qualities in the creative period. They result solely from a long and slow sequence of activities carried out by the child himself between the ages of three and six. The only thing we can do is to put education on a scientific footing, so that children can work effectively without being disturbed or impeded, as well as let children use their creative powers.

21. Children’s Possessiveness and Its Transformations
Human character formation has its constructional process. The first stage is concentration; perseverance comes next. Once the child’s attention has been focused, he becomes his own master and can exert control over his world. Repetition produces a kind of consolidation. If we want the child acquires concentration and perseverance, we must help him become independent and let him choose work freely in an attractive environment. Work and concentration can help the child pass from possessiveness to a sense of love and care for the things he handle, then, the material becomes a medium for him to approach to knowledge.

22. Social Development
Children learn social skills through their experience. A Montessori setting which like mix ages and sexes class, respect each other’s work and freedom, provides a great opportunity for the children’s social development.

23. Cohesion in the Social Unit
Society depends entirely on cohesion. The first step child “cohesion in the social unit” is he was born in the family. He gets individual loves and cares from there. Later about age six, his conscious mind works. He starts to learn customs and laws; obedience regulation he lives, and becomes a part of that group. Education shall be able to prepare for the man’s society. .

24. Mistakes and Their Correction
Mistake can be a harmony bond between adults and children. Children learn voluntarily and would like to correct mistakes themselves. They become more skillful and stop making mistakes.

25. The Three Levels of Obedience
Child’s training relies on will and obstacles. Old time education believes that obedience is the fundamental secret of everything. Three level of obedience are: 1) child obeys sometimes, but not always 2) child always obeys when there’s no obstacles 3) child observes another person’s will and expresses in his behavior.

26. Discipline and the Teacher
The teacher should have calm, firm and patient voice to reach child’s heart and equipped with a series of preparatory exercises to help awaken child’s inner discipline. Once feels sure of himself, a child will have confidence, noble instinct to drive to finish work.

27. The Teacher’s Preparation
The teacher behaves like a keeper of environment, amuses the child and does not interfere him while he is acquiring power to concentrate on things. She will let the child acquire physical independence, be able to act, will and think himself. She does not exercise power over the child, but giving approval when the child comes forward.

28. Love and Its Source—the Child Index
Love is discovered in all aspects of a child. Child has Absorbent Mind and springs from love.

The child must first prepare himself and his bodily instruments, then become strong, then observes others and finally begins to do things himself…….Only after this does a new phase set in when he feels the need to start doing things himself. “I am ready and now I want to be free.” (Page 156)

This does not mean the directress has to urge a lazy child to do something. It is enough for her just to put him in touch with the various means for purposive action that are awaiting his use in the environment prepared for him. No sooner has he found his work than his defects disappear. (Page 202)

These quotes indicate a girl who I’ve been seeing her for three years. First year when she was three, she didn’t want to do any work. She looked tired or bored most of time. She liked to lie down on the sofa at the library corner. If teacher suggested her to choose a work to do or wanted to show her the work, she would use her tiny voice and said, “No, Thank you!” She didn’t work or play with many children in the class. When talked with others, she didn’t make eye contact. The second year when she came back from summer break, her behavior changed. She became more active on work and social. She worked together with other friends, mostly were girls. She was more open to receive new lesson. This year at age five, she grows much taller. She acts like a leader with younger children. She is energetic and eager to do the work. She reminds others about the ground rules. This case is exactly like what Montessori had described.

The child likes to take very long walks and to carry quite heavy things……to carry burdens. (Page 156)

Last year there was a 3 year old boy in my class. He liked to offer his help especially to the teachers. When everyone lined up for the playground, he would ask teachers, “Can I help you? Can I carry something for you?” Sometimes the snack was kind of heavy, but he always said, “Its okay, I can take it.” One day he asked for ball, so we carried a big bag containing several balls, bumper ropes, and chalks. The bag was pretty heavy, but he volunteered to carry it. When I saw he had a little bit struggle with the bag, I told him that he could give me the bag when he felt it’s getting heavy for him, but he insisted to carry it back all the way to the class . A little boy carried a heavy bag, when I think of it now; I still can feel his strong will.

Children has a special interest for those things already rendered familiar to them (by absorption) in the earlier period. On these they can focus their minds with great ease. (Page 172)

Example: Once I volunteered at a small but lovely Montessori School. One day a three years old girl caught my attention. She stood in the geography area. On the first shelf, there were many flags from different countries. She looked at the flags for long time and then pointed to American flag. She told her teacher: “I like this flag better!” The teacher asked her for her reason. She looked at the flag and then repeated seriously: “I know this flag. I like this flag better!” Why the little girl liked America flag more than other flags? As she said, it was because she KNOWS it. She felt comfortable with the things she knew already.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Absorbent Mind 2

10/8/2008 Assignment 2
Philosophy Part II
The Absorbent Mind
Feng Mei Shao

In Chapter 15, we learn that we, as teachers, should be careful not to destroy any of life’s natural tendencies.

In Chapter 16, we learn that the child is completely dependent on us early on, then he/she progresses to take control of his/her life.

In Chapter 17, the real explosion takes place in inner personality; the child will find himself under his own circumstances and not through educational method.

In Chapter 18, Montessori discusses the upbringing of a child; the mother should not threaten or pamper, but let the child “normalize”.

In Chapter 19, Montessori discusses classification of children into society groups, if they are “good” or “bad”

In Chapter 20, children need to achieve their own character; they do not need so much help from the outside as they do from their inner character.

In Chapter 21, the child is a spiritual builder who influences his own free development, they act under natural laws.

In Chapter 22, children develop by their own in groups; their social development is done in schools.

In Chapter 23, children first try to develop themselves, then they put the group first and develop for the whole.

In Chapter 24, mistakes and correction methods are used, gently correcting a child is best as he develops on his own.

Quote: “It is as though nature had drawn a dividing line; on the one side are happenings we can no longer remember: on the other side is the beginning of memory.” (p.165)

When this boy walked into classroom in the morning, he said that wanted to complete the math today. (He works on math everyday). After attendance, he prepares two rugs and the needed materials. He opens the container first, and takes out one set of numerals (10, 20, 30 … 100). He mixes up the cards, and then finds the corresponding one. Afterwards, he takes the Numeral Cards 10, 20. 30,…100 and matches them with the corresponding beads. As he worked, he was very quiet and concentrated. Occasionally, he would stop to take a break. He would get a snack, talk to other children, then go back to work. When he found that there were some numbers that he was confused about, he called a teacher over to help him. He spent 2 hours focusing on this activity. I have found that he is interested in math, because when he is free to choose whichever activity he wants to do, he always chooses the math. There are prepared environments for children at each successive developmental plane.

Quote: “We may regard everything concerning character under the guise of human behavior.” (p.194)
On Share Day, a child will bring his or her own favorite thing to classroom to share with everyone. When the child brings something in, he or she will a few minutes to describe it. Then, other children will ask questions about it, or make comments about it. They will ask things such as “Where you get it?”, “Who give to you?”. However, a few younger or quieter students will be very timid and will not know what to say about what they brought in. In these cases, the teacher will give guidance and tell the child to say something simple like, “I like it.” In the social environment, the children help and learn from each other, by sharing or talking. They develop confidence, self-esteem and nurturing skills as well as skills in maintaining their love for learning.

Quote: “Once we have created an environment in which all the objects are attuned to children’s developmental needs, we have done all that is needed to produce this phenomenon.” (p. 244)

J is a 5 ½ year, in her second year in Montessori school. During the week, she spends a few days in a special school. She has never spoken to anybody. This year was the first year that she began to speak a little bit to others. All her movements are very slow because her hands are not well coordinated. Because the activities in the classroom such as Practical Life- Pouring Activity, buttoning, and folding, Sensorial-Pink Tower, Broad Stairs, Geometric Cabinet work, help to strengthen her muscles and hands, when she is working on them, she often repeats what she does many times. Those works are reinforces aided by touch, light tracing. I observed that she was very concentrated in her work. Also, she alternates the way she works too. For some activities, she will place things differently or move all the different objects around. One day I decided to give her new lesson – Metal Insets presentation I. Metal Insets are exercises that give practice in pencil control, and draw shapes to produce the graphic symbols of the English alphabet. The teacher’s role is to step back and not interrupt and giving children a sense of control did it.