This term has started beautifully. There have been a few tears from some of the younger children who take a little while settling in again after the holidays. This is completely normal as they have had mum, dad or grandma or the nanny with them at home for 2 whole weeks and having to go into the classroom again can be somewhat daunting.The teachers here are very experienced at re-directing the children and very soon they feel comfortable again.
Don’t forget our Parent Curriculum Evening this Thursday April 26th from 7:00pm where you will have the opportunity to play with some of the Montessori maths materials. Please watch the video that was sent out last week on Konnective as this gives you a great introduction to the Maths curriculum and philosophy around Maths, in a Montessori environment. On Tuesday we had the Montessori Quality Assurance team come and visit
our centre. They spent the whole day here observing in the rooms, chatting to the teachers and myself and checking paper work including our Montessori records and students’ folders. They were very thorough and the initial feedback has been positive. We will receive a more formal feedback in the next few weeks and I will let you know of the results of this assessment visit.
Below is a great article about education and the heart, the head and the hand and why all these 3 elements need to work together to reach a positive outcome for your child’s education. Enjoy the read!
Education of the Heart, the Head and the Hand
The heart means so much to all of us, perhaps in very different ways. I like to think of it as part of three important features of education and of the child himself, and I have a slogan I have used for many years: “Education of the heart, the head and the hand.”
Writing this newsletter is a good example of how these three things work together. I had the desire to write to you. The desire is from my heart, so my heart is engaged. Then I thought of what to write in more specifics, which is my head at work. Then I sit down at my computer to write and my hands are engaged. The activity I am engaged in as I write is a perfect synthesis of heart, head and hand. AND, I chose to write today, which is like icing on the cake of action.
Now think of a child in a classroom who has to listen to a lecture that he will be tested on. First of all, it is highly likely that he isn’t interested and has no desire to learn about the teacher’s topic. His mind may not be highly engaged and yet he has no choice but to sit there and listen, because there is no structure to allow for individual choice in most classrooms as there is in Montessori classrooms.
Or maybe after a chalkboard presentation of a new math skill the teacher tells the children to do all the math problems on page 46. Is the heart likely engaged? Some children love new math challenges, so for them, yes. But not for all. How about the mind? Again, for some children who are clear about what to do, the answer would be yes. But for some, the only real engagement is the hand doing the work and hoping the mind remembers what the teacher said about how to do the problems, when the child reigns in the wandering mind! We’ve all been there, some more than others!
Now, envision a child walking into a lovely, colorful classroom filled with numerous developmentally-appropriate choices. Children are working, some are walking toward what they want to work with and the teacher is doing her job – observing to see who needs her help. Maybe one child needs some help making a choice, one is ready for a completely new lesson, while another needs help remembering the next step in some lesson he has already been shown.
“The goal of the teacher is not so much the imparting of knowledge as the unveiling and developing of spiritual energy.” – Maria Montessori
When a child settles on a piece of work that he genuinely wants to do, has been shown how to do it so his mind is clear on what to do, and his hands are free to do the work, and repeat it as many times as he wishes to anchor it more deeply within, we truly have the education of the heart, the head and the hand. However simple the task may be, a new awareness floods the child of her own competence and the value of her personal choices. So the mastery grows.
Maria Montessori, as Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Rome before she started her work with children, understood a great deal about the facets of culture and their impact on development. She wrote about ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, and the relationship between the heart, the head and the hand.
- She noted civilizations known for their beautiful arts and crafts of the hand.
- The same civilizations were also known for their profound impact on world thought, reflecting the development of the mind.
- She also noticed that on tombstones of these high cultures, good character, reflecting development of the heart, was acknowledged and highly respected.
In essence, these three facets of development are like the three legs of a stool. Each one is equally important in holding the balance of one seated on it.
While we can strive to base our educational system on such a balance, we also realize that life is not a bed of roses, and we all have to do things we would prefer not to do. No problem. We are realistic but we also know that when these three elements work together, the outcome is good.
So I say again, the education of the heart, the head and the hand for our children is where:
- we desire to do our work because it is just the right work for us at each stage of development.
- we know how to do it because we have been shown the essential steps.
- we are free to repeat it with some concrete material as many times as we need to make it our own, as we embody intellect through movement.
This is a worthy goal, not just for our children, but also for the development of our civilization.
DATES FOR YOUR CALENDAR
- Wednesday 25 April: Anzac Day Public Holiday School Closed
- Thursday April 26: Montessori Parent Curriculum Evening 7:00pm
- Saturday May 19: Open Day
- Friday June 8: Montessori Curriculum Day School Closed
- Monday June 11: Public Holiday School Closed
- Friday June 29: Term 2 Finishes