Purpose of This Blog

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Benediction for a Montessori Guide




What is it that calls us to this work?

What, beyond all other reason, provides for us the energy to continue to step boldly forward in service and support, partnership and solidarity? It must be “belief” - belief in the power of the human spirit to rise above.

We are, all of us, champions of humanity’s capacity to question, wonder, work, struggle, persevere, and to constantly be making itself anew.

I suggest that our work as stewards of the children in our care is often more ministerial than academic, more pastoral than instructional. It’s all related, of course: our work in skills development and content mastery, coupled with social and moral development. If our task is to help support the unfolding of the child’s inner self, it’s blossoming can only be as grand as the fertile soil from which it’s slender stem grows.

Remember, therefore, the significance of the intentionally prepared environment (yes, every nook and cranny), and of the spiritually prepared adult… every nook and cranny; nothing can be left to chance.

In an outer world that often feels fast, loud, scary, and impersonal you provide the light in the darkness. It is your thoughtful presence in our students’ lives that makes the difference; you serve as the beacon of clarity, and promise of safe harbor.

Our work is, at its heart, is an act of great hope, faith, and defiance. We cannot foretell what the future may bring, but we believe that the path forward for humanity - for today and tomorrow - is to equip the young people with which we share our days with the compassion, balance, ingenuity and grace to transform the world as we know it to one in which love triumphs over greed, and where joy dances beyond of the shadow of fear.

On this Winter Solstice, this day of longest night, take heart in knowing that we stand together and together we are strong. In our continual work to refine our practice and reaffirm our commitment to the scope and depth of the responsibilities we hold, shine out your inner light. Let it guide you, and welcome others to the warmth of your soul.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Winter Solstice


In a Montessori classroom, the opportunities for curricular cross-pollination are many: a teacher’s presentation may lead to deeper questions that enrich and extend; a student-led study may pull from all areas of the curriculum before it feels complete. Each content area is able to influence the others, depending upon the medium required of the educational journey. Working together, the teacher and child use the resources before them to create meaning from their academic investigations.

There is, of course, another plane to this interweaving of curricula - one that lies in the space between the pages of our albums. At times, the studies we embark upon create far more questions than provide answers. While we may be able to label, define, describe, and share some parts of the universe and its rhythms there is still great mystery that leaves us all in awe. 

In The Winter Solstice, written by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis, the search to make sense of one such mystery is beautifully illuminated. Chronicling ancient people from Europe and North and South America, Jackson and Davey create a feeling for how some of our forebears approached the coming darkness and prepared for it’s hopeful return. 

This time of year, as the days get shorter and the air temperatures fall, we all can feel something of a kinship for our ancestors. Can you imagine how the ancients must have approached the changing of the seasons? What practices and beliefs were created to explain the change, and provide for a return to what was hoped for? 

Jackson’s writing reads like a whispered story over a fire, while Ellis’ painting places us beside people from many cultures as they share with us their way of knowing. Older students can both grasp the scientific basis for the changing of the seasons, and can marvel at how the ancients grappled with what must have been a very tenuous and scary time each year. 

Share this set of vignettes with your students and staff. Allow them to explore that sense of wonder that comes from trying to understand people from the past. Like we do when discussing the Fundamental Needs, each new perspective on the human condition brings the possibility of new depths to our learning.

Enjoy the reading, and Happy Solstice!

The Winter Solstice
Story by Ellen Jackson, illustrations by Jan Davey Ellis
ISBN: 1-56294-722-2


Discover other Winter Solstice related activities bellow:

(This review was originally posted on December 3, 2012).