Purpose of This Blog

Devoted to guiding educators towards an authentic and intentional Montessori practice.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Caring for the Dream


How does one nurture the spirit of an institution?

How does one care for the employees and physical spaces that make the dream real, but also the dream itself?

How does one nourish the abundant creative energy needed so that the separation between actors and stage is seamless, and that each person spiritually inhabits the very mission and vision of the institution?

As local leaders in education we must be able to articulate and stand by the people, pedagogy, practices and policies of the schools we create. We need to be able to speak to each like they are parts of our family, parts of our bodies - each piece necessarily influencing and informing the whole. These are the interwoven fundamentals that, when realized authentically and kept healthy, speak to the very essence of our schools’ existence.

Too often do we stumble in the shadow of great intention, put our heads down, and simply move through our days. To work in such spaces without dynamic interplay between these fundamentals is to inhabit a spiritually empty husk: a mission without truth, a vision without possibility.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can deliver on our promise to foster unique environments that speak to the needs of all those involved: children, their families; school staff, faculty, board members; and members of the wider school community.

Start with what you know.

People Who We Are
Our employees are tireless, creative, dynamic, radical, unabashed, open, curious, eager – seekers every one. Through an ever-expanding understanding of human development, social relations and scientific inquiry we create our core ethos. We believe in the power of positive relationships and vibrant learning opportunities to transform children’s lives.

Pedagogy What We Do
Maria Montessori’s view of children, and her holistic approach to learning, provides an exceptional framework for reforming and reinvigorating our schools. In approaching education as a process to be explored, as an ever-unfolding journey of experimentation – rather than the static binary relationship of prescription and recitation – Montessori shows us the way forward.

PracticeHow We Do
We start with the child. A curriculum does not drive our work with children; rather, it serves as a map for the journey. The children, then, help to create what is studied; they are partners in the creation of the universe that unfolds before them. What they desire, what they need, how they present from moment to moment constantly reshapes the forward progression of learning, and the attainment of new knowledge.

PoliciesWhy We Do
The policies that we create and then enact reflect the philosophical underpinnings of who we are and what we do. They are manifestations of these broader fundamentals; they codify the spiritual ground of our community, our pedagogy, and our practice.

Once articulated, our conception of the people, pedagogy, practices and polices of our schools informs every aspect of our work – from the classroom to the boardroom. If any of these four fundamentals becomes fragmented or diluted we must stop, reassess and reconsider the way ahead. We cannot continue to move forward until we can do so with authenticity and truth. Belief is a powerful thing, but only as powerful as the quality of its manifestation.

How we imagine our schools can be, is how we imagine our families can be; our communities, our neighborhoods; our towns, cities, states and nation. Our schools are the crucibles in which a more fully awakened collective consciousness can be catalyzed.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Peaceful Children, Peaceful World: The Challenge of Maria Montessori



The beginning of the school year provides great opportunities for reflection and renewal. Within the first weeks of being together, staff communities settle back into familiar routines in preparation for the students’ return.

These are critical times to set the spiritual and emotional climate for the months to come. A staff needs to know the reason and rationale for their work, the great and powerful “why” they serve the children and their families in the capacities that they do.

Throughout her writings, Maria Montessori infused a sense of the greater aim of our endeavors; namely, to cultivate in children a new consciousness, from which peace can flourish. It is essential that now, and throughout the school year, we return to this central vision.

The words that follow are excerpts from “Peaceful Children, Peaceful World: The Challenge of Maria Montessori” by Aline D. Wolf, with illustrations by Joe Servello (1989). For this book, Wolf selected significant sections from Maria Montessori’s 1932 speech at the International Office of Education in Geneva, Switzerland – published first in Italian as “Educazione e Pace”, then later in English as “Education and Peace”(1943) by the Theosophical Society in India. Wolf edited sections from the Indian edition for this book.

“Only a sane spiritual rebuilding of the human race can bring about peace. To set about this task, we must go back to the child.

In the child we can find the natural human characteristics before they are spoiled by the harmful influences of society.

The life of the embryo in the mother’s womb has the sole purpose of maturing into the newborn child. But the gestation of the whole human being is not confined to that short period.

Another period of gestation follows, whose sole purpose is to incarnate and make conscious the child’s spirit. Delicate nurture is needed to protect this often unrecognized process which can only be carried out by the child, obeying a natural rhythm of activity which has little in common with that of the commanding adult.

Truly, upon the spiritual growth of the child depend the health or sickness of the soul, the strength or weakness of the character, the clearness or obscurity of the intellect.

The nurturing of the spiritual life finds its expression both within the family and at school in what is still called education.

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.

I believe that the new adults who emerge from a more tranquil childhood will use their intellects and achievements to find a means to end the fury of war.

Monumental changes are needed to establish peace in the world: first, the maturing of adults to a higher level of development and, then, the providing of an environment that will no longer deprive any human being of the basic needs of life.

Through new education, we must enable children to grow up with a healthy spirit, a strong character and clear intellect, so that as adults they will not tolerate contradictory moral principles but will gather human energies for constructive purposes.
                                                                                                   - Maria Montessori

- In what ways can we explore Montessori’s profound vision with the broader school community?
- How might students, teachers, administrators, and parents reach a new understanding of what we are here to do?
 - What are the collaborative structures and systems needed such that Montessori’s vision can be realized?
 - In what ways can the whole school community share in the keeping of this flame?
                 
It is easy to become distracted. Like any meditation, however, we have to purposely bring our minds and hearts back to ground, back to the breath. It is this practice of mindfulness that will not only assist us in clarifying our mission, but will be palpable to the children and families with whom we share this adventure: priorities clear, distractions at bay, hearts open, ears attuned – minds and bodies ready to be present for the great unfolding.


Sources

“Peaceful Children, Peaceful World: The Challenge of Maria Montessori” by Aline D. Wolf, with illustrations by Joe Servello (1989)
ISBN-10: 093919502X
ISBN-13: 978-0939195022

and

"Education and Peace" by Maria Montessori (1992 edition)
ISBN-10:1851091688
ISBN-13: 978-1851091683


Related Links from This Blog

Why Montessori Matters:

Children Centered Learning – Learning Centered Children:

Teaching With Spirit: Maria Montessori’s Cosmic Vision:

Weaving the Cosmos:

Looking for Grace in the Work We Do:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How We Say, What We Say - Part III


In November of 2011, shortly after starting this blog, I created a “wordle” of all of the text of the posts to date in an effort to explore how I was saying what I was saying. It was certainly an interesting reflection of my priorities and sensibilities; at least, in how I expressed them at the time:


In June of 2012, I created another wordle upon which to reflect:


Now, a year and ten months and thirteen posts later, here is a third glimpse into the weight of the words I choose.


Try it out with your own work: www.wordle.net

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Alphabet Tree



In Montessori schools steeped in rich practice, elementary-aged children learn to see the world’s cultures and their histories through the filter of the Fundamental Needs of People: Food, Shelter, Clothing, Defense, Transportation, Communication, The Healing Arts, Self-Expression, Spirituality, and Belonging. Examining how humans across time and the global landscape meet the same needs allows for new understandings based upon the similarities of our experiences, not the differences.

Of these needs it is often the last, Belonging that stands out for children: at its most basic, the need for being cherished and cared for by others.

As children mature, they learn that Belonging is not only the desire to be loved and supported. We see it palpably as children move from a naturally selfish stage (as toddlers), to one where deep caring resides (in the elementary years), to where justice is paramount (as adolescents).

Indeed, in each of us there exists a tremendous yearning to be a part of something that matters. At some critical point in our lives the predominant function of personal survival transforms so to allow extending ourselves to work for the greater good. One’s definition of Belonging swells as one grows to include the pull to contribute to something greater than ourselves, to help create something that will, in turn, benefit the whole.

*                    *                    *

I have been thinking a lot lately about bravery and courage: when, faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, one embraces the uncertainty and fear of the unknown and move steadily forward towards Truth. 

What does one do in the face of injustice?
What does one say when conventional wisdom encourages silence?
What does one feel when one’s actions fall short of being true to one’s soul?

Oftentimes it can be the simplest explanation that carries the greatest weight.

First published in 1968, Leo Lionni’s classic The Alphabet Tree creates a story that is both a children’s tale and timeless parable.

In it, letters of the alphabet that once enjoyed a sunny existence - each on its favorite leaf – are blown asunder by a sudden and fierce wind. As the gale ceases, the letters lay huddled and frightened unsure of what to do. Aided by a wise friend, the letters slowly join together – making words; combined, perhaps they will be able to withstand the next storm that blows in. When the wind does return, the letters - now united in unique ways - are no longer fearful and resist being blown away.

But that is not the end. Lionni seems to ask us: Is it enough to just survive?

In the story, another friendly presence next greets the words and exclaims, “Why don’t you get together and make sentences – and mean something?”

And that’s just it, isn’t it? It would be easy to look back on one’s successes and relax, letting others now take up the fight. After all, the wind can be cold and strong; it has great volume and its reach is vast. And yet, can we not find the strength within ourselves to boldly step into its path?

Will we have the resolve to do the right thing?

As our story comes to its ambiguous conclusion the sentences are coached to further action, to not rest in the comfort of their most recent achievement. Indeed, it is not enough just to be good, the friend states; better to “say something important”.

*                   *                    *

Stories such as these serve as powerful as allegories to our lives and our work with and for children. Through them we gain a profound way of understanding that comes from the use of metaphor. Educators and school leaders can consciously use these fables to elicit the deep thinking so necessary for new and dynamic growth.

In the book, letters become words, which form sentences, which create statements – paralleling the arc of living and working in community. We, too, develop along a similar path: moving from existing solely as individuals, to collaborating with others, to expressing the community’s voice, and lastly shining out a unified vision in action.

When is the time to take the next step?
When you feel your conscience unsettled.

As one’s sense of Belonging is strong enough to loose the attachment to what is comfortable, real and profound learning can take place. Transformative change comes from taking risks and extending oneself beyond the ease of the familiar. To venture over that edge, into unknown territory where security is not guaranteed - that is the mark of one’s commitment to living fully.


The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni

ISBN 0-679-80835-3

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Cosmos


Many years ago my mother had an aged friend that for years took a photograph of the sunset from her balcony apartment. She had a terrific view and, while the pictures collected in multiple albums were indeed beautiful, as a teenager I found her practice to be a bit odd – if not peculiar. After all, there were so many other things that one could be “doing”!

Perhaps it’s not until you reach a certain age, or have had some set of threshold experiences, that you begin to reflect on your past and the whys of your present. If only such meta-cognition could come earlier! But then, I guess, it’s the reflection upon one’s own history that creates the deepest of meanings and the most settled understanding. 

What is it about youth that drives one so inexorably forward? Is it the sense that you are just at the dawn of life’s arc? I recognize and remember that person in me, but he and I are different somehow. I hate to think that it’s because at my ripe old age of forty-two I am sensing the interminable decline towards death! With sore muscles and joints that creak, has this mortal coil just about given up the ghost? Is it all just a matter of waiting out the game?

Well, of course not. Nor has it ever been, though it might feel like that from time to time. One’s life is punctuated with ripples and crenulations – some crests, some troughs. At any moment we can experience an event with the pull of gravity, or the exhilaration of weightlessness. We are who we are from the experiences that shape us.

The old and grey are not the only ones who can impart wisdom. When wisdom comes, it comes in the form of a unique kind of knowledge that has been forged by reflecting upon past events, and the feelings that orbit around them. Upon reflection, what is old becomes new again.

What if we spent more time examining the journey rather than focusing on our destination? As busy adults - with full-time jobs, mortgages, school-age children, etc. - if most of us spend our lives repeating similar habits and patterns day after day, mightn’t we find greater richness in the seemingly mundane if we took a closer look at the what and how of what we do along the way?

Perhaps what is truly essential and definitive is not just the thing we do, but the doing of the thing itself.

*          *         *          *          *

In The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe, author Chet Raymo invites us on a tour of his daily walk to work. A professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts Raymo shares with us the interwoven stories that lay at his feet. The book is broken into sections that define his walk. Each new chapter opens much as the landscape does before Raymo as he walks from his home: through woods and verges, across a brook and open fields, into the water meadow, an old orchard, and community garden.

Raymo speaks to us as a naturalist might, elucidating the particular geological and biological facets of his walk. One can imagine him lingering over the smallest blossom, or the flash of a crystal face reflecting the Sun’s light. And then, beyond the firm, to the cycles that draw the multitude together. The players he describes are connected by the very atoms that they share.

And yet, The Path reads more like a novel than a work of natural history alone. Raymo centers his love of wilderness within the frame of the human history that has shaped and reshaped the land through which his path meanders. Like the trail that he travels, readers are quickly mesmerized by the rich and complex lives of the people he describes. Each new story is another step along his path, another moment of unfolding and greater understanding.

Everything has a story. Nothing exists in isolation. Everything is related to something else, some how. In intimate detail, Raymo shares with us the preciousness of his slice of the cosmos, revealing connections where the reader may not have guessed them, and bringing to full consciousness the beautiful enormity of the world and our lives.

*          *         *          *          *


The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe (2003), by Chet Raymo.
ISBN 0-8027-1402-1


Enjoy the walk!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Getting Out of the Way: Rethinking Discipline in the Montessori Classroom


 
Framing the Work

Presentations on discipline frequently focus on the rules and regulations, and the policies and procedures necessary to keep children safe. These conversations, however, have to be more than just about what forms to fill out and who to speak with about a student’s challenges. 

In our world, the question is not whether you handle the issue in your class or refer it to the office; it really has to be much more fundamental to our practice than just a question of paperwork.


Semantics

The way in which words are used is important. They carry particular weight, depending upon the time period and culture in which they are adopted. And, these subtle, commonly agreed upon meanings change as cultures develop.

discipline 1. from the early 13c. meaning "penitential chastisement, punishment"; 2. from Old French descepline (11c.) meaning "discipline, physical punishment; teaching; suffering; martyrdom"; 3. from the Latin disciplina meaning "instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge".  (Source: www.etymoline.com)

When we look at the etymological origins of the word discipline, we see that most recently it has been used to refer to something that is done to someone, a correction, indicating a necessarily lopsided power-over relationship.

We can also see, however, that this was not always the case. Look at discipline’s earliest record of usage: "instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge". Perhaps, when taken this way we can come to view discipline as less of a reactive behavior, and more of a proactive one – one where power is shared.

So, let’s reframe our definition of discipline and refocus our energies in a positive, future-oriented way so that we are building relationships with children.  


The Art of Discipline

The art of discipline is to mold others in your image: who you are and (most importantly) what you do. Who and how you are helps to define what kind of people your students will become.

I would argue that this is our most important work. 

After all, who has the greatest opportunity for consistent messaging about what it means to be fully human? 

We do.

Discipline is best viewed as an act of peace education, distilled. As learning to be peaceful is an active process we need, therefore, to examine our own practices to ensure that the actions that we model to our students are aligned with this vision.


Looking Inward

When we are presented with behavior that flies in the face of our desires and expectations we need to look inward first. Most of the time it is about how we have prepared ourselves and the environment to meet the child’s needs that is the root of the child's actions. 

This can be a challenging proposition for us: it means that we have to be as open to change and risk as we ask the children to be throughout the school day. To accommodate this demand, we need to be flexible, spontaneous, dynamic, humble, specific, direct, and purposeful in our work with children. 


How Do We Get There?

It is important that we recognize our personal limits of behavior:

·      What is it about certain behavior that really pushes your buttons?
·      What is your “shark music” (those cues that alert you to a change in a child’s behavior that will be challenging for you)?
·      How will you convey that “music” to your assistant(s) and colleagues so to get the support you need?

Challenging children are not malfeasant beings created to undermine your every move; they are waiting for your loving guidance and support.

If there is a behavior issue, you need to examine what are you not providing the child: 

    What is it about your choices and decisions that have led to this point? 
Are you fueling and fanning the flames?

When faced with behavior that does not align with your expectations for the moment, what do you do?

·      Do you give a little more, loosen the reigns a bit and wait?
·      Do you pull in tight?
·      Which action allows for sustained and transformative changes in behavior?


Preparation of the Teacher

We must be present to the struggles within us as we make these decisions around our interactions with children.  

It is this mindfulness that will allow for partnerships to triumph over punishments.

Think about the children you have worked with. Which students come to the forefront of your memory? What kinds of memories are these? Do you feel:

                                                         Happy?                   Bittersweet?
                                                         Proud?         OR       Remorseful?
                                                         Fulfilled?                Embarrassed?

Why do we feel such conflicted emotions?

I propose that if we feel a mixture of emotions it is because we ourselves know that our most important work is to “be there” for the children in our care. And, that because of our own baggage around schooling, or our fears and pressures of the work we do, or the demands placed upon us by the multiple stakeholders in public education – we lose our way. 

We lose our focus and prime directive: to be stewards of the Spirit in the children who gather around us.

So. Take a few breaths. Think quietly and explore the light and the dark, the fear and the joy, the clouds and the sunshine of our work with children. As you think about the year before you:

·      In what ways are you coming from a grounded and present place?
·      In what ways can you see yourself growing?


Breaking Old Habits & Developing New Ones

It is through the Montessori curriculum that we meet the children in their heart spaces. As servants and stewards, we worship the child not the curriculum - children first then content, hearts first then minds.

How we frame the energy of our classrooms and the work that goes on in there is truly as important a component to "preparation of the environment" as is where the shelving is placed. 

Discipline is problem solving.

Discipline is more often about letting go and giving in.

Our goal is to become meaningfully attached to the children with whom we work, a system synergy.

·      What do you wish for in that relationship?
·      How would it feel?
·      In five, ten, fifteen years, what memories would you like to have made of the experience?

So often with issues of discipline we can get caught up in what the child is doing or not doing relative to our desires and expectations.

But here’s the thing: 
It’s not about us. 
It’s about being ready for them.


Seeing the Child Anew

We can be champions of our students' thirst to learn and experience the universe around them. We can stand beside them as they call out to their muse in search of beauty, liberty, trust, and joy!

Say Yes More

Anticipate the Struggle

Be Uncomfortable

Take Risks

“Sit on Your Hands” 

Choose Carefully When, Where and Why You Intervene

Let It Go

Broaden Your Definition of Work

Start Seeing “False Fatigue”

Give it time

Soften

Rethink Your Use of Consequences 


Conclusion

Discipline re-framed as peace education allows for the chance to teach and experience new ways of being in the world – both for the child and the adults that serve them. When we do this, we walk together towards a brighter horizon.


Additional Resources on Discipline

1. “On Discipline – Reflections and Advice” by Maria Montessori

2. “The Montessori Approach to Discipline” by Mary Conroy and Kitty Williams Bravo 

3. “Freedom and Discipline” by Marcie Hogan

4. “Liberty and Discipline in the Montessori Classroom”

5. “Freedom and Responsibility: A Life in Balance” by Seth D. Webb


(This post includes excerpts from a staff development training given on August 7th, 2013).

Friday, July 26, 2013

It's in Everyone of Us

I
 
I first heard this song during my initial summer of 6-9 Montessori teacher training in 2001. I was moved and left speechless; it spoke to me in many ways, on many levels. Now, more than a decade on, I am sharing the song and slideshow in preparation for this year's International Day of Peace on September 21, 2013. Enjoy and Blessings!

Click below to listen and watch:

"It's in Everyone of Us" - David Pomeranz


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Our Planet, Our Home



As a child, my father often led me on an adventure in our backyard. On warm, summer days we would lay prone in the spiky grass of our lawn and inhale the sweet, humid smell of the earth.

We would next turn our eyes downwards into the grass to see what we could. Like a camera whose lens takes in more and more detail as it extends towards its focal object, so too did our eyes adjust. Gradually, the world above became less of our concern as we looked for surprises in the world beneath us.

Our eyes first met the brilliant yellow sunbursts of dandelion flowers, and their sisters’ ornate globes of seeds ready for dispersal. Then the feathery and torn blades of grass, the rich green of their stems. Below that, mounds of earthworm castings, wormholes, and sometimes the worms themselves – quiet and slippery as they undulated along in compressed coils, springing slowly forward. We saw ants, big and small, carrying food to their young and trash from their nests, as well as the occasional robin’s egg shell, lodged between the grassy stems and partly filled with dew.

This was a world unknown to me, but one in which I came to love because of its hidden richness and secret activity. Down there, in the grass and truly close to nature, I could feel the soil breathing and imagined the plants growing. I embraced the microcosm beneath my gaze for the connections it highlighted; how there was no part that I witnessed that was not unrelated to the whole.

______________________________________________________________________________

Our Planet, Our Home: A Gaian Learning Material by Philip Snow Gang and Marsha Snow Morgan is a work that explores the relationships found between all actors in this cosmological dance. Drawing upon ecological principles and systems theory, participants use arrows to make unique and authentic connections between the pictures provided:

- a Spiral Galaxy
- the Sun
- the Earth
- images symbolizing the Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Lithosphere and Biosphere - the Biogeological cycle
- Soil
- the Five Kingdoms (Bacteria, Protoctista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia)
- an image symbolizing Humans
- and seven cards representing aspects of Human Activity (Transportation, 
  Shelter, Clothing. Communication, Food, Play, and Love).


On a rug or tabletop with plenty of space, children and adults alike can collaborate to see how the components relate to the each other. It is a dynamic activity, filled with excited and spontaneous discussions as realizations are made and connections explored.


This is not a prescriptive work, but one that allows for wonderment and curiosity to be the drivers. There is room for numerous repetitions, each with its own new set of discoveries.

Our Planet, Our Home suggests a holistic approach to science education, one that emphasizes how things are related and not concepts held exclusively in isolation. It is a powerful work, one that asks us to open our eyes and minds to new connections and novel possibilities.

______________________________________________________________________________

Click HERE to Order

For more information, check out:
and

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In Praise of Teachers: Artists, Alchemists and Advocates


When we speak of the fabric of our society, no one besides a child's family has the power and potential to transform a child's life like a teacher does. Teachers perform the essential role of weaving together social mores, cultural practices and multiple ways of understanding to create a tapestry that tells our story. This work is an ever-expanding creation, made newly rich and complex as each one of us - students all - contributes our experiences and perspectives.

______________________________________________________________________


We are artists. We express our love for life and living through the content that we teach - in both the method and materials we share. In an ever increasing search to meet the needs of each child, we transform the classroom environment and the content we study so that everyone might have a personal and meaningful relationship with learning.

We are alchemists. We constantly balance the needs of one child with the needs of another; we cater to each individual, in service of all. Throughout the day, opportunities are made available, and prescriptions are given. In each action resides the scaffolding for more and more complex educational options. Our compass is the warmth and growing light of excitement which we all feel when working with passion and delight. 

We are advocates. We greet the children with our hearts before we do so with our minds. To move too quickly, to rush head-long into the delivery of content, is to create a space where the teacher is merely performing - dispensing information, regardless of its relevance to or resonance with the children. We work to know both the head and heart of each child. This connection allows for the deep and purposeful exploration of our universe, powered by a trust and faith in each other.

______________________________________________________________________


Our work and the work of our students is not static or passive. Rather, ours is a rich and vibrant world, one where originality and creativity put young thinkers on the edge of new understandings. We are champions of joy and engagement. 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

On the Day You Were Born

 
Many of the stories that we tell our students and the cultural lessons that we share are our part of our collective oral tradition – they belong to all of us. They are of the Earth and we are of the Earth. These stories resonate with us because we have lived them, experienced them first-hand as fellow passengers on this planet.

Like stories once passed down for generations and now seldom retold, the sense of intimacy present in these tales can be lost when not repeatedly shared with children. It is essential that we regularly return to this connection, to remind and refresh us all of where we came from and how we are all related – to each other, to the Earth, and the universe.

The atoms that fuel the energy of the Sun, that form the water in our seas, that build the cells that scaffold the tallest trees, and allow for our brains to make sense of what we perceive all can be traced back to stardust. They and we are one.

In On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier, one’s scientific way of knowing merges with the spiritual. Through gorgeously rendered paper collages and poetic text, the story tells the tale of each human’s journey from within the womb to the world outside – all the while speaking of the patterns and rhythms of nature that have always been. It is an intimate story that connects us again and again to the greater cosmos.

On each page there are volumes being said – the words speak like pictures and the illustrations root you to the world. Each conveys just enough to allow for the mind to wonder and make connections.

Following the story, there are additional pages that explore and illuminate the science behind each illustration. Each description dovetails nicely with the lessons we share in a Montessori environment: the Universe Story, the Work of Water, the Work of Air, Botany, Zoology, The Coming of People, etc. Children delight and find great comfort in the discovery that the stories we tell and the impressionistic lessons we share are part of the wider collection of knowledge held by others - outside the classroom.

On the Day You Were Born balances our inherent desire to highlight the gifts of each individual child, with the strength found in community. Despite the fabulous uniqueness of each one of us, we need to be sure to celebrate each child’s individuality while underscoring the connections that tie us all together. To only do the former, leaving the latter as an afterthought, teaches children just that: that our connections to others and the universe are to be secondary to the “mighty me”.

Developmentally this can be a challenge. Children can, at times, struggle with balancing their growing sense of self and independence with meaningful relationships with others. This makes sense for young children, as they are hard at work understanding how to get their needs met first and foremost. Those around them can be seen as either helping that process or hindering it.

No matter one’s age, however, in sharing stories like Frasier’s we subtly remind us all that there is more to our lives than meeting our own personal needs and desires. We have a collective history that has relied upon, and a future that now yearns for, our collaboration.

On the Day you Were Born by Debra Frasier
ISBN-13: 9780152579951

More at: www.debrafrasier.com