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The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori

Posted in Education / Schools, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2016 by Drogo

Book report on The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori (1966 version)

Learning how to enjoy learning by asking questions, and liking what you do; not just doing what you want or are told to do.

Content Summary

Childhood: A Social Problem

Era of the Child; Psycho-analysis secret

Newborn Child – Alien Environment, Natural Instincts, Spirit Incarnation

Psychic Development – sensitive periods, observations

Order – Inner / Outer

Intelligence, Growth, Sleep, Walking, Rhythm, Movement, Comprehension, Love

Montessori Method Origins

Normalization

Deviation – pampering, fugues, barriers, cures, attachment, possessive, power, fear, truth

Conflict – adult vs child

Instinct to Work

Guiding, Teaching, Rights, Mission

Conventional ‘direct teaching’ impedes child learning, based on the erroneous assumption that teaching molds young minds. The will-power of the child to create their own skills (walking, talking, eating, etc), is how children learn. Children have the power to change their own behavior, and are more successful when it is self motivated. The key is to determine where teaching and self-motivation meet in each case.

Children will notice with frustration, that they are considered unreliable and weak compared to less fragile adults. This dissociative relationship between the helpless child and their environment causes children to think of themselves as hopelessly inferior, and combined with social competition makes them desperate for attention and constant continuing dissatisfaction as they grow. In many ways this conditions people to be fighters and survivalists, which are certainly strong roles; and is naturally similar to resistant forces that cause a tree to grow denser and shorter if there are high winds, or thin and tall with little wind. However there is a problem with children viewing themselves as less valuable than the objects they are forbidden to touch, as without self worth, they have nothing to lose by hurting themselves or others.

If a child is to develop their own interior life, they must be allowed to touch things, and work rationally; as this can help them early on to develop considerate habits of acting. They must develop ethics by their own free-will, although we can guide them. Establishing sustainable successions of working actions, based on rational play, is successful education.

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Absorbent Mind, by Maria Montessori

Posted in Book Reports, Education / Schools, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2016 by Drogo

1949 Book – by the author and founder of Montessori Method

  • translation 1958, 1967 edition

Children play a part in World Reconstruction – humanity is still immature; it has a long way to go to become a peaceful utopia. Philosophers must take control, and begin teaching our youngest children early, so they may grow up and contribute to the greatness of humanity. Our human greatness begins at birth, new children are the makers of men.

Education is for Life. The psychic mind of each child, is simply their psychology of the soul. We learn by absorbing knowledge and experience. Gandhi said that education must be coextensive with life, and the central point of teaching must be to affirm and defend life. This good education feeds peaceful revolution.

Phases of growth can be considered as periods of time as the child grows older. Period 1: child ages 0-3, period 2: child ages 3-6, Period 3: child ages 6-12

Creation is a miracle. Modern biology is turning in a new direction towards children. Good parenting can produce better citizens, because good parenting makes the adult and the child more humane. Even in the wild, savage lions are tender with their cubs. Children are not just copies of their parents, they teach willing parents by bringing out their best sides. The instinct to defend our young, is often more powerful than our instinct to run away from danger; this is evidence of the intense power that children have over many parents. Cell division in the genesis of becoming being, is a natural miracle of microscopic multiplication. Babies evolve into adults, much like mammals have evolved from reptiles; and even between species, embryos look very similar.

Independence, Language, and Obstacles – discovering independence is naturally thrilling for children, our brains are set up to reward the work of learning. Environmental experience gives children language and obstacles to challenge and shape them. Eyes are camera obscuras that allow us to see objects, but it is our minds that process what we see. Without language, we would have no civilization.

Intelligence and the Hand – in the development of appendages, the legs are clearly more important for mobility; and our hands are for everything else, including cooking, feeding, craft, and social complexity. Our dexterous prehensile abilities give us tool making advantages over other animals. Our brains enable us to use our hands for communication, as well as our mouths.

Development and Imitation – practice of skills is vital for complex and successful imitation

Unconscious creators can become conscious workers, and vice versa.

Culture and Imagination – one person’s boring stagnation is another person’s enjoyable comfort zone; in between perpetual entropy and growth. We are like volcanoes, that erupt with changes naturally, through-out our lives.

Character during childhood is a personal achievement, but can obstruct learning in school.

Social contributions, unit cohesion, and normalizing – knowing when to concentrate and when to move on to something new, could be considered in ‘normalcy levels’.

Correction and Obedience (3 levels)

Obedience is seen as something which develops in the child in much the same way as other aspects of his character. At first it is dictated purely by the vital impulses, then it rises to the level of consciousness, and thereafter it goes on developing, stage by stage, till it comes under the control of the conscious will. – The Absorbent Mind.

Montessori Three Obedience Levels:

1. Partial Obedience

2. Blind Obedience

3. Compassionate Obedience

The First Level of Obedience

“What we call the first level of obedience is that in which the child can obey, but not always. It is a period in which obedience and disobedience seem to be combined.” (Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, 1964)

In order to obey one must not only to wish but also be able to obey. To carry out an order one must already possess some degree of maturity and a measure of the special skill that it many need.  Hence we first have to know whether the child’s obedience is practically possible at the level of development the child has reached…If the child is not yet master of his actions, if he cannot obey even his own will, so much the less can he obey the will of someone else. – The Absorbent Mind.

The Second Level of Obedience

A period when the child can always obey, when there are no obstacles deriving from his lack of control. His powers are now consolidated and can be directed not only by his own will, but by the will of another. The child can absorb another person’s wishes and express them in his own behaviour. – The Absorbent Mind.

 “The second level is when the child can always obey, or rather, when there are no longer any obstacles deriving from his lack of control. His powers are now consolidated and can be directed not only by his own will, but by the will of another.” (Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, 1964) This may appear to be the highest level of obedience; however, because it is dependent on outside variables (adults or authority figures), this is not true obedience. The child is merely satisfying someone else’s wishes, not his own.

The Third Level of Obedience

The third level of obedience is when the child gets joy and pleasure from unquestionably obeying someone superior, no matter the request, such as obeying a respected and much loved teacher without question.

The child “responds promptly and with enthusiasm and as he perfects himself in the exercise, he finds happiness in being able to obey.” (Montessori, The Discovery of the Child, 1967) This is the stage of true self-discipline.

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Discipline and Love – “Work is love made visible.” – Gibran (The Prophet 1948)

END

Reference – Minding “On The Dot” by M.V O’Shea in Montessori Talks to Parents (Series One, Volume Two) The Road to Discipline NAMTA 1979. 

Montessori Notes

Posted in Education / Schools, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2016 by Drogo

My mother was my Montessori teacher. In addition to these notes, i have reported on these books: Montessori Revolution,  Absorbent Mind, and  Secret of Childhood. – Drogo

American Montessori Society Bulletin  1979 – vol.17, No.1

Piaget and Montessori In The Classroom – by David Elkind, Tufts University

“Classroom practice, of whatever variety, presupposes a particular conception of the child. In this chapter, four components of Piaget’s and Montessori’s conception of the child are described, together with examples of the sort of educational practice that follows from them.”

Elkind goes on to explain 2 different methods of teaching, by referencing 2 different classrooms where children were using the ‘pink tower’ blocks incorrectly. In one case the teacher corrected the children, and in the other they allowed the play. In theory, he said, both are justified.

Child as capable of self-regulation – learning materials tap mental potential

Child as a cognitive alien – they think different than adults, like foreigners

Child as a logical thinker – young people use logic to make decisions

Child as emotional countryman – they have adult emotions that affect behavior

Summary

The first task of the teacher is to observe children, then let that inform how you teach them. It is the teacher’s conception of the child, which in the end, determines the nature of the teacher-child affective interaction using specific methods and techniques. Do not assume what children know or understand, because everyone is different in their awareness, development, and rationality. Respect for children is important, so that they can begin to emulate respect for teachers, others, and themselves. Teaching should be guided by these factors.

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Children Learn in Different Ways

Proceedings, American Montessori Society

1975, Granby Colorado

Learning As Creation, by John Bremer

Child Development, by J.M. Hunt

Montessori Day Care Panel

Kephart Development Model, by Nancy Miles

Gellner Rationale of Learning Disabilities, by Ward and Haise

Organizations Serving Young Children

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Learning As Creation, by John Bremer

Dr. John Bremer founded ‘School-Without-Walls’, Parkway Program, Cambridge

Bremer starts off with a joke about how he once stood up in front of people, and his pants did not. He says “as long as you’ll remember my pajama bottoms all the way through, then I guess I won’t feel too embarrassed about what I say.” Then he proposes a role for the student, as an artist. The artist should understand ‘three essential elements’: material, ideal, and skill. Bremer says that ‘temporal arts’ have a strong presence in time. Songs, music, and dance are temporal arts; you do not “see it before yours eyes as a totally finished thing. You experience it through time.” Temporal arts are more of a ‘process’, than they are an complete object. Bremer says that human beings are more dancers than sculptors, in how they live their lives. “Everything is a rehearsal, and yet everything is the only performance we will ever give. In that way it is incredibly beautiful and also incredibly frightening.” Students should be considered with the humane respect that we might give an adult artist; they are people. He considers the term ‘student’ to be almost equal to ‘artist’. Student = Artist. Teaching means introducing the student to materials, ideals, and skills. School is an activity, not a place; but the structure of a building does matter, as architecture affects learning. Psychological disposition is inherent in education, we all have our own ways or styles of teaching and learning. The student should ‘recreate the wheel’ to be the master of technology, rather that its slave. Also moral responsibility should be introduced by the teacher, so they do not create a ‘Frankenstein’ situation. One way of introducing morality, is to create community, as a bridge between society and individuals. Community to him meant people coming together and cooperatively carrying out common purposes. “We will never all be dancing, we will never all be still.” We dance with others to share love and friendship.

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Child Development, by J.M. Hunt

Dr. Hunt, Professor Emeritus of Psychology from University of Illinois

Plasticity is important in early psychological development. Intelligence should no longer be limited by predetermined training, but be allowed to expand and flourish with imaginative experiences. Education is important in the process of learning rules, and but to also think beyond the ‘box’. Piaget described the sensory motory phase as a kind of ‘shell game’. The child develops in progressive sequences, or steps.

Hunt goes on to address Head Start, IQ, vocab, and verbal tests and ages. IQ is not fixed, it fluctuates through-out a person’s life-time. 7 ordinal scales: object construction, strategy means (schemes), imitation gesture (physical), vocal imitation (tonal), operational causality, object relations, object relation. Branches of learning can develop at different rates, this is natural; in accordance with genetics and circumstances like environmental nurturing, social effects, and local area situations. The problem of ‘the match’ is how an equilibrium between stages of development can be key to complex phases of child education. When cognition is lacking, motivation is necessary; as found in The Secret of Childhood, by Montessori. Like the Pavlovian ‘What is it?’ reflex; change of habituated input, recognitive familiarity, and the challenge of ‘old-vs-new’ attraction stimuli all matter greatly. Observe, create, and make sure you are free to adapt your methods in order to teach better.

Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work

Montessori Mother, by Dorothy Fisher

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Montessori Day Care Panel

reported by Janice Sullivan

Children’s House, Broomfield, Colorado

Integrating Montessori into Public Education – existing materials, introduce practical life area, order Montessori materials, regroup into groups of 30 children (max), maintain order, demonstrate activities. Varies local services were addressed. A ratio of non-Montessori staff and aides are allowed.

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Kephart Developmental Model

Nancy Miles, NC KGH Achievement Center, Fort Collin, CO

Systems and Structures – The total environmental concept: the home, school, community, peer group; all play a part in shaping a child’s behavior, through demands for response or interaction. Kephart Child Development Theory of Stages of Learning: motor, motor-perceptual, perceptual-motor, perceptual, perceptual-conceptual, conceptual-perceptual. Audition, Vision, and Kinesthesia should be integrated.

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Gellner Rationale of Learning Disabilities, by Ward and Haise

This article criticizes the Gellner approach, but talks about how it is compatible with other systems. It is a neuro-psychological concept of mental retardation, which includes some useful tools for training students that may not be able to fully understand conventional topics. Gellner said that children who are classed as retarded, mainly have brain impairments of either a structural or bio-chemical character. These impairments prevented normal integration of impulses coming from various parts of the body. Senses play a very important part in our learning. Gellner came up with 4 sensory neural systems: 2 involve vision, and 2 involve audition. Mentally retarded children cannot learn in the same ‘normal’ ways, because they suffer from sensory deprivation.

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Organizations Serving Young Children

Reported by Jim Hennes

The panel concluded that the session had been important in pulling together these representatives, and that future efforts should be made to share some time together among organizations.

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Montessori Quotes

“Education demands only this: the utilization of the inner powers of the child for his own instruction.”

“The essence of the independence is to be able to do something for one’s self.”

“A child’s work is to create the person they will become. An adult works to perfect the environment, but a child works to perfect them-self.”

“Development comes from environmental experience.”

To have learned something is, for a child, only a point of departure. What is necessary after that is a period of digestion or maturation, a period of intense and prolonged mental activity.”

“The more fully the needs of one period are met, the greater will be the success of the next.”

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“Teacher, teacher look at me now,

my days are light, my time is right

because you showed me how.

Teacher teacher look what I can do

my lines are straight, they are perfect mates

across the paper blue.

and if you’ll hold my hand

I’ll skip the land and gather flowers new –

hey teacher, teacher, look at me now

just look what I can do.”

– Anon

 

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Signs of Success

Posted in Spiritual with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2013 by Drogo

(Inspired by working with the Harpers Ferry Healing Arts Clinic in 1994)

* Successful Happiness *

Smiling, Snickering, or even Laughing.

Thinking and acting like a child, without being childish.

Reducing fear, anger, and conflict in general.

Enjoying as many moments as possible.

Appreciation for as much as possible.

Accepting rather than Judging.

Connectedness with Nature.

Contentment with People.

Sustainable feelings of Love.

Less worry.

(This is was written by Drogo Empedocles for Creative Commons)

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