This issue’s Question and Answer section deals with offering Montessori materials during extended day hours at school. The response focuses mainly on activities connected with art, music and dancing.
Announcements - Educateurs sans FrontièresAMI is planning on holding the Second Assembly of the Educateurs sans Frontières during July and August of 2002. The venue and details of the programme - which will cover a full six weeks - will be settled shortly and posted on AMI’s website.Participation in the Assembly is open to AMI diploma holders only. Those requesting application forms, should write, fax or e-mail the AMI Secretariat, giving the name of the training centre attended, as well as the level(s) of training taken and the diploma number(s).As was the case with the First Assembly, the number of places available is limited. Prospective applicants are therefore asked to contact the Secretariat for an application form by October 30.Please note that the names of people who already wrote expressing interest in attending the Second Assembly are on file. They will be contacted by the Secretariat in due course.Announcements - Affiliated SocietiesThe AMI Executive Committee is pleased to announce that three societies have been granted affiliated status. This brings the number of AMI affiliated societies to eighteen and extends the boundaries to Australia, Canada and Sweden. We look forward to the support and collaboration of these new affiliates and would like to introduce them to our readers:Australian AMI Alumni Association Inc.Montessori Society of CanadaAMI Kamratförening, Sweden
Many of today's children tend to lead more sedentary lives than ever before; television and computers coupled with 'fast food' diets contribute to an unbalanced lifestyle. Recognising the need to turn the tide, to initiate discussion and to raise awareness of this growing problem, AMI invited Greg MacDonald to address the meeting of the Directors of Training and Trainers in Ambleside in August, 2000 on the subject of Montessori and physical education.Greg MacDonald is an AMI Elementary trainer, consultant, and examiner. Greg's talk was introduced to the assembled Directors of Training and Trainers by Camillo Grazzini.From the Introduction to 'A Montessori Approach to Physical Education' by Camillo Grazzini:Maria Montessori is always primarily a scientist rather than a pedagogist, also when it comes to physical education. We can find evidence of her scientific approach to physical education in the first two Italian editions of her book, The Montessori Method - Scientific Pedagogy as Applied to Child Education in 'The Children's Houses' (1909 and 1913)...As we can see in her book, Montessori herself adopts the so-called 'natural gymnastic movements' ... that lead to essential exercises such as 'standing and standing with good posture; walking and developing endurance in walking; running, jumping, moving and lifting weights; developing powers of balance', etc. We can find all these physical activities in Montessori's education of movement in the Children's House as well as in the relevant language activities.From the main article on Physical Education by Greg MacDonald:Section/Issue #1 IntroductionIn this part of "A Montessori Approach to Physical Education", the author focuses upon the need for inclusion of physical education programmes in our schools. He traces the development of physical education from its historical roots in the lives of early human beings to the present day, and also examines Maria Montessori's own experiences in the field, her work in the area of nutrition and its relationship to classroom materials and practice.'Intellectual progress is conditioned at every step by bodily vigour. To attain the best results, physical exercise must accompany and condition mental training'. (Comenius A.D. 1650)A Montessori approach to physical education can be distilled into a single sentence: Approach physical education in your classroom as you would approach mathematics or biology, or any other area of knowledge, or any other skill.Section/Issue #2 IntroductionIn this part of "A Montessori Approach to Physical Education", the author highlights Maria Montessori's work in physical education, describing a range of apparatus introduced to the young children in her care. Fundamental Montessori principles are identified, and their application to physical education is discussed, the place of competition is examined, and a physical education programme having a distinctive Montessori flavour is described.
On the 1946 Training Course in London, Dr. Montessori spoke of the importance of freedom of movement for the very young child. She illustrated her lecture with a number of personal observations, demonstrating the child's inner drive towards the construction of the adult of the future."... Now that the child can walk independently, he begins not only to carry heavy things but also to engage in other activities which are difficult for him. He needs to engage in what we call 'the maximum effort'. He climbs on chairs, climbs the stairs, he does all those things which require a great effort. It is not merely that he exercises his conquest but that his conquest enables him to exert great effort. This is an example of horme which compels the child to exert the maximum effort: to go into the world and do these difficult movements. Children of this age evidently have an urge of nature, a determined urge, because all children all over the world show the same need to exert the maximum effort."
In Communications, no 4, 2000, on page 42, a notice informed you that the Annual General Meeting of the Association Montessori Internationale will take place on Saturday, April 21, 2001 at 14.00 hrs at 't Nieuwe Kafé, Nieuwe Kerk, Dam Square, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The name of the town Chiaravalle will most probably have a familiar ring for many Montessorians: it is a town whose history goes back to the 7th century A.D. Construction of its Abbey Santa Maria in Castagnola was started in 1172. Situated on the Adriatic coast, with the town centre only six kilometres away from the sea, it has a population of some 14,000 inhabitants. Small, yet with a long history; perhaps unassuming, yet the home of Maria Montessori's first years. It is where her parents married and she was born.The very house were she was born has for many years been identified as such. Now, Chiaravalle has expanded its recognition of the merits of one of its most prominent citizens ever. The 'casa natale' has been turned into a Montessori study centre and museum. 16 November, 2000 saw the official opening and inauguration of the museum. Special guest of the Mayor and authorities of Chiaravalle was Carolina Montessori, great-granddaughter of Maria Montessori. Together with the Mayor, Alessandro Bianchini, she unveiled the plaque of the new museum.So, if ever you find yourself in the province of Ancona in the neighbourhood of Chiaravalle, by accident, or on purpose making a little Montessori pilgrimage, do visit the Casa Natale. It should be a most interesting stopover along the Montessori route.
This time the Question and Answer section deals with the question when and how to use the term cuboid or Prism, with reference to the Sensorial Material.The article first gives the explanation given by Mario Montessori in 1977 and is expanded by Camillo Grazzini and Baiba Krumins."...Each 'step' of the broad stair, as well as each rod of the long stair, can be called a: geometric solid; polyhedron, hexahedron; (special) prism; (special) parallelepiped; (special) cuboid. All of these terms are correct and exact; the only difference is that some are more general and others more specific. We can always choose one or another according to the context; in other words, which one is more appropriate in the present context?"
In 'Maria Montessori and Algebra - The Binomial Theorem' Camillo Grazzini first offers the reader some information on Montessori's mathematical background before expanding the topic. His thorough and lucid article is supported by detailed drawings illustrating the specialist theory, making it accessible and enjoyable to a more general readership. The topic is introduced by the following quotation of Maria Montessori:"A boy of eight years who had entered my room in search of his younger brother of three, appeared to grasp with ease and enthusiasm the working of the binomial cube which I was, at that moment, endeavouring to explain, in vain, to the student-teachers of the Montessori Training College in Rome. (...) He came eagerly to the table and took some of the pieces. 'Leave them', I told him, 'you cannot understand these things; they are too difficult even for these ladies.' 'Oh, but I do understand', he answered."
In her lecture on language delivered in Karachi in 1946 Dr. Montessori elaborates on the Sensitivities of Language and stresses that 'language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we call civilisation'.Dr. Montessori touches upon many elements, including nature versus nurture, involved in the development of language. One of the major points argued is that 'the child builds upon his faculties according to a plan pre-established by nature'.
Zero means nothing; it is the number corresponding to the metaphysical nothing or naught. How do we then envisage nothing? Children sometimes see zero as an 'amusing curiosity', for what is its use in addition, subtraction, division or multiplication? 'Zero represents the starting point from not being to existing, from 0 to 1. ' In this Q&A section some of the aspects of zero are explained and highlighted.
From 1997 to 1999 Rita Schaefer Zener ran an AMI training course in Romania at the primary level. She recaps on some of the initial experiences and outlines the current developments, focusing on cooperation with the authorities and how some of the students she trained have fared at the schools where they are employed. Rita Zener plans to return to Romania in 2001 to offer support and liaise with 'her' ex-students.
From August 19 - 25, 2000 the AMI Directors of Training and Trainers gathered for what has become a four-yearly tradition: a meeting providing a platform for discussion of pertinent issues, lectures, talks and deepening of Montessori pedagogy. Some reflections, suggestions and thoughts from a cross-section of the trainers capture the mood of the moment. 'The five days were divided into a mixture of pedagogical presentations and theoretical discussions regarding both the form and the functions of AMI and its training centres.' 'In between sessions, we walked, picked blackberries, toured, feasted...it was a perfect environment in which to open our hearts to the future of AMI.' 'The experienced trainers were very kind to share their knowledge and gave suitable guidance.'
Some of the words spoken by Bob Portielje on retiring from the 'job' as AMI's President"...I am grateful for the opportunity to say 'off the record' a few words to everybody from the AMI community, who allowed me, an outsider in the field of education, to hold this prestigious post. It goes without saying that this gratitude is matched by my indebtedness to Djoeke, without whose help I couldn't have done the job. But I would particularly like to thank all of you (...) for your understanding and, above all, your loyal and warm friendship.May AMI flourish under the more than capable new president, Renilde, the general secretary, Mary and chair of the Executive Committee, Hilla: they will continue to guarantee the high standards for which the Association stands.....Thank you, AMI. I fell in love with this 'job' and wouldn't have missed one minute of it."Upon being made an honorary member of the association Bob Portielje said "I am more than grateful for the honour conferred on me by the AMI Board". Some of the words of appreciation spoken on that occasion:We celebrate almost a 'life-time' of Montessori: Bob's commitment and interest in Montessori as a parent led to over forty years of active Montessori involvement.Thank you for your continued and unflinching support throughout all the years.Bob, you were a binding factor, the cement which helped build and consolidate today's structure of AMI.We are fortunate to have Bob always available for consultation, sensible advice and his friendship.It's not goodbye...it's au-revoir.
From Science and the Montessori Casa dei Bambini, an article by Annette M. Haines Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis, Missouri.This article was first delivered as a lecture to the North American AMI Trainers' Council held in Tempe, Arizona in November, 1999.The article's introduction by Renilde Montessori also serves to spark off discussion of the subject.(From the introduction)...Neither shall we know whether children in Montessori schools will be more or less scientifically inclined if in the Casa dei Bambini they are presented with science exercises or not. To have, or not to have science in the three-to-six classroom is a quietly enduring tug o' war between two factions in our very own AMI pedagogical community. We do not bandy neither do we hurl. We are civilised, we endeavour to uphold the principles of grace and courtesy which presumably are second nature to us, yet we tenaciously clamp our jaw around our well-founded convictions on the subject, sinking a powerful fang into a rationale made from solid bone.Annette Haines offers a superbly lucid, well-illustrated exposé of pedagogical reasons for not having science exercises in the Children's House. We would like to invite defenders of the other faith to come forward with an equally eloquent avowal of their conviction that simple science experiments have a place in a prepared environment for children from three to six years of age.(From Annette Haines' article)In order to talk about science in the environment we prepare for the 3&endash;6 year-old, we must first ask, "What is science?" Science is a method of inquiry, a mode of investigation which makes a systematic attempt at creating knowledge.(...) Scientific progress can be seen as the exploration of error. Most scientific hypotheses or theories are wrong: the scientific community sees that wrong ones don't get published. Right ones are made with "the tears and sweat (at any rate, with a good deal of bad language) by people who are constantly getting the wrong answer" (1978, p.111).Science is done by the scientific method. You probably remember learning about the scientific method in school: formulate a hypothesis; construct a straw man (a null hypothesis); and design an experiment to see if the empirical evidence is enough to reject the null hypothesis with a certain level of probability that your results are not the result of chance variation. It is a powerful tool, but it cannot prove anything; it can only disprove. Science thus requires a certain attitude of scepticism (Shaughnessy & Zechmeister,1990, p. 21). No truth is so sacred that it cannot be tested.(...) Scientific experiments are usually done in a laboratory where the variables can be controlled. The researcher lets the one variable he wishes to examine be a free or independent variable. Maria Montessori described her method as "scientific pedagogy". In the laboratory of the prepared environment, all the variables are controlled except one: the child. The child is the independent variable. Behaviour is recorded through narrative records and checklists documenting the frequency of specific behaviours, the duration of the behaviour, and so forth. It is essential to give the children freedom because only when the children are free, can we clearly see their individual differences.
Centro Internazionale Maria Montessori - Perugia, Italy Celebrates Its 50th AnniversaryIn July, 2000 The Centro Internazionale, Perugia celebrated its 50th anniversary - fifty years of intense work begun by Maria Montessori and continued by Maria Antonietta Paolini for many years. Since 1950, thirty-four international courses have been held with the participation of foreign students from five continents as well as Italian students; eleven national Children's House and Elementary School courses for Italian teachers and advanced courses for teachers trained by Mario Montessori in 1956 and 1958 and by Maria Antonietta Paolini in 1960. In all, the Centro has prepared a total of 3,676 teachers.Numerous seminars have been held at the Centro dealing with various topics related to children's psychosomatic development. Some of the many congresses and gatherings held are:1970 - the Congress on the Centenary of Maria Montessori's Birth1985 - the Conference on 'Teaching History' [L'insegnamento della storia nella scuola dell'obbligo]1992 - the Conference on 'Education for Work in the Consumer Society: Thoughts on the Pedagogical Imperatives'1998 - the Conference entitled 'The Pursuit of Science...to Construct the Science of Peace', commemorating the centenary of Mario Montessori's birthCONGRATULATIONS !!
Questions fall like seeds upon the mind. Some blow away, some enrich the soil of thought, a rare few germinate and grow, invigorating the spirit and the intellect.Question: After sifting through the many questions posed at parents' evenings, one remains: Is the Montessori method not outdated?Answer: The Montessori method is undated. It is not subject to any one time, to any one space.Life as a phenomenon is being intensely investigated on all levels of science. Many of the orthodox disciplines have evolved to become "life sciences"; biochemistry, bio-physics, biology as an intrinsic part of psychology, etc. Maria Montessori was a pioneer of the "bio" sciences. Today she would no doubt be known as a bio-pedagogue. She herself called her method "an aid to life".(...)Another aspect of the Montessori method, the aspect that is best known and in many cases the only one that is known, is the vast range of autodidactic materials Maria Montessori developed. Those for the very young child were created mostly in the first half of this century; it is not surprising that people wonder whether they are perhaps outdated, particularly since great quantities of excellent teaching aids have been designed in recent decades.But there is a difference between these materials, and the names chosen to denote them express this difference admirably: "teaching aids" vs. "autodidactic materials". Teaching aids help teachers convey to the children what adults or a group of adults feel should be conveyed to them. Autodidactic materials are tools that help the young child teach himself the arts required to become a member of his group, following the dictates of inner laws.
A sneaking feeling of an inevitable 'divorce' has come over me; after about forty years of an ever-growing involvement in the Montessori movement, first locally and nationally, which was soon to become internationally, now has come the time for goodbyes. Quite disturbing, believe me! It is an odd thought to realise that this coming September an unforgettable and fascinating part of my life will end. For nearly half my lifetime it has been my privilege to meet so many exceptional and outstanding people from all over the world, many of whom have become personal friends of Djoeke and myself. I emphatically include my 'Mrs. President': without her continued support, assistance and participation the relationship AMI-Bob Portielje would have been utterly impossible.What kept me in Montessori all these years? Briefly it is, I believe, a mixture of loyalty, love and the feeling of a Montessori parent who wished to do something in return, grateful for Montessori education .From my letter in Communications 4, 1999 it is crystal clear that my faith in AMI's future is utterly justified, with Renilde Montessori as President, Hilla Patell as Chair of the Executive Committee and Mary Hayes as General Secretary.
The article, which includes revised and refined definitions for the Land and Water Forms as approved by the AMI Pedagogical Committee, offers clear and concise information on the appropriate materials. It has many useful suggestions as to classroom activities and has an extremely well-documented note section. The article is relevant to both the primary and the elementary levels and is well worth reading.
This year has been proclaimed the International Year for the Culture of Peace (IYCP) by the United Nations. Manifesto 2000 is an appeal for individual commitment that was drafted by a group of Laureates of the Nobel Prize for Peace. The aim is to collect and present one hundred million signatures to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2000. This is to be achieved with the help of all identified partners, which includes AMI.Through the website address below, you can add your electronic signature and thus contribute to AMI's partnership in this operation.