Purpose of This Blog

Devoted to guiding educators towards a centered and intentional Montessori practice.

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.

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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.

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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