Montessori Powerpoint by Alan Evans, St Clears


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Montessori Powerpoint by Alan Evans, St Clears

  1. 1. How To Solve A Problem With Maria ©2007 Alan Evans 1
  2. 2. It is always useful to know something about the person that is talking to you on a subject that they profess to know something about. The following is a brief personal outline. Alan Evans - Born Bryn – Llanelli - 1964 • Disliked School and left unofficially at 13 • Worked on a series of youth opportunity schemes • Joined the Princes Trust • Worked in residential homes with children in care • Worked in Maytree school for autistic children • Worked in youth clubs after school clubs and I.T. • Trained at St Nicholas Montessori Centre • Worked in Romania with HIV infected children • Worked at Holland Park Montessori School • Worked at Hill House International School • Trained at Hornsby International Dyslexia Centre • Published The Phonic Farm reading scheme • Trained with Snaps Cymru • Worked independently screening for dyslexia • Trained at West Wales School of the Arts • Worked at Trinity College Learning Support From 1994 to 1999 I worked at Hill House International School as a teacher for children with Specific Learning Difficulties. I was responsible for the screening of children within the school. Working individually and as part of a team, writing reports for parents, teachers and other related agencies. Liaising with other agencies to provide the best possible service for students with Sp. L. D. Establishing and improving a support network for teachers, parents and students. Constructing and implementing teaching programmes. I was also class teacher to 25 children. From 1992 to 1994 I worked at Holland Park School House, Kensington, London ( My role was as Teacher in Charge. Providing care and education for 36 children aged between two and a half to 9 years old. Following The Montessori Method of education. Responsible for the day-to-day running of the school. Key worker role to individual children. Writing reports for parents and schools and attending planning meetings 2
  3. 3. From 1990 to 1992 I worked for the Romanian Angel Appeal an aid worker. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team established by the Director of The Royal College of Nursing. Establishing a play and education programme in the institutions of Romania. Responsible for introducing The Portage Method of Education into the institutions. Assessing the needs of institutionalised children and adults with H.I.V. / Aids. Establishing a community clinic providing care and education for families, specifically targeting H.I.V. infected children and adults. Liaising with the Romanian Ministry for Health and Education to implement training and education programmes for teachers and nurses. Directly providing care and education for children within the city hospital and orphanage. Training teachers within the institutions and liaising with teacher training colleges. Giving public talks on the work of the organisation and attending meetings with international aid teams of Non Governmental Organisations. I returned to Wales in 1999 to start a family and try to gain employment in education or social services. I became an Independent educational adviser for children and adults. Screening and providing private tuition for children and adults with specific learning difficulties – dyslexia. Training with Snaps Cymru, promoting partnerships between schools and parents. Training with the dyslexia institute and establishing dyslexia centre in Carmarthenshire. Liaising with service providers for dyslexia. Campaigning for better provision and early identification of dyslexia. Working with Community Action Network to provide computers for community groups involved with adult literacy. In 2003 I enrolled on a BA Hons photography course. In 2006 I was short listed for student photographer of the year by the Independent newspaper. I worked as a visiting lecturer at Trinity College, Carmarthen giving lectures on Montessori. We all know something but we don’t know everything. I think it is useful to bear this in mind each time you engage in conversation with anybody especially a child. In this way, you become open to other people’s knowledge and especially that of the child. 3
  4. 4. A very wise old man who ran one of the most successful schools in Britain used to stand on a stage every Wednesday morning. He would address about 2000 pupils and 500 parents. Parents were invited to assembly. At the end of an inspiring talk he would always say, “We are all equal but different, equal but different”. He would deliberately repeat this. Colonel Henry Stuart Townsend (1951) had started the International school in London after the Second World War. It became famous for the eccentricity of the colonel and the uniform. Gold corduroy knickerbockers and brown tops. “Put a child in a grey uniform and they develop grey minds” he said. There was no curriculum, no educational theory. The teachers were simply asked to teach to the best of their ability. The results were outstanding and the children went to Eaton and Harrow amongst other schools. I ended up at Hill House as a misfit. A drifter and gatherer of alternative ways of working with children. I have worked with physically and mentally handicapped children and adults. Children in care. Children in orphanages and in hospitals, youth groups and after school clubs. I studied youth and community work and the Montessori method The Hornsby dyslexia course and Portage method. I specialised in dyslexia screening, assessment and tuition. I have written the phonic farm reading scheme and other teaching books. Observing the way in which children read developed the scheme. Taking the structure of the English language and the most commonly used sight words. Level 1 uses CVC words and first few sight words. Level 2 uses CCVCC words and the next level of sight words. Level 3 uses a combination of short vowel and long vowel words and the next level of sight words. The images are meant to be representative of a rural life and draw the child’s attention to the life of a farmer his wife and their animals. The illustrations contain fine details of farm life and include the miniature creatures, which form part of the eco system. The last whale charts the plight of the 4
  5. 5. whales on the planet before man to present day. Teach your child to read gives a detailed guide on Montessori’s methods for language and the reading process. The reading books were voted as best reading scheme in the London Parent Guide. Who Can Teach? Teaching is supposed to be a professional activity requiring long and complicated training as well as official certification. The act of teaching is looked upon as a flow of knowledge from a higher source to an empty vessel. The student’s role is one of receiving information. The teacher’s role is one of sending it. There is a clear distinction assumed between one who is supposed to know (and therefore not capable of being wrong) and another younger person who is supposed not to know. It is possible to think of in another way. As guiding and assisting. Within any environment there will be people whom are capable of this. They can be parents, grandparents or other children. How we interact with children in the early years has fascinated educationalists, psychoanalysts and philosophers throughout history throughout the world. The following are some articles I found which for me exemplify how we should be approaching education this century. Teaching Young Children Is A Creative Process. Early childhood teachers do not need to follow a prescribed course of study, as might someone teaching adults a class in biology or history. Nor can teachers simply react to what happens each day, 5
  6. 6. without any goals or plans in mind. Rather, early childhood teachers depend on a curriculum framework that sets forth the program's philosophy, goals, and objectives for children as well as guidelines for teaching that address all aspects of a child's development: socio-emotional, cognitive, and physical. An early childhood curriculum provides the framework for what actually happens in a planned environment where children interact with materials, their peers, and adults. The primary teaching goal is to help young children use the environment productively and see themselves as capable learners — as individuals who are developing the skills and understandings that will enable them to make sense of the world and to succeed in it. (Trister & Colker, 1992) "If children are excited, curious, resourceful, and confident about their ability to figure things out and eager to exchange opinions with other adults and children, they are bound to go on learning, particularly when they are out of the classroom and throughout the rest of their lives” (Kamii, 1985). "Within the perspective of 'development as long as development is possible' as our long-range goal, I conceptualize the following three objectives for early education: 1 In relation to adults, we would like children to develop their autonomy through secure relationships in which adult power is reduced as much as possible. 2 In relation to peers, we would like children to develop their ability to de-centre and coordinate different points of view. 3 In relation to learning, we would like children to be alert, curious, critical, and confident in their ability to figure things out and say what they honestly think. We would also like them to have initiative; come up with interesting ideas, problems, and questions; and put things into relationships" (Kamii & Devries, 1980). "It is not the manipulation of objects in itself that is important for children's learning. What is important is the mental action that is encouraged when children act on objects themselves. Children's mental action can be enhanced or hindered by the 6
  7. 7. social context of the classroom. When the teacher holds all the power of decision making [by correcting children's work on worksheets or preparing the art materials to cut and paste], children become mentally passive because they are prevented from taking a stand, exchanging points of view, and living with the consequences of their own decisions. Young children cannot think very well when they sit silently. However, movement, manipulation, and noise in themselves are not necessarily educational. The teacher who stops using worksheets is taking a step in the right direction, but this is only the first step. We must replace the worksheets with an environment that offers ample opportunities for children to think as they manipulate objects”. (Williams & Kamii 1986) Kamii studied under Jean Piaget on and off for 15 years to develop an early childhood curriculum based on his theory. This work can be seen in Physical Knowledge in Preschool Education (1978) and Group Games in Early Education (1980), Many of the main theories of education around the world include the same basic aims, principles and beliefs. They have been largely based on principles of equality, justice, spirituality, social reform and technological advances. Common Theories Within Early Years Education •Educators Must Observe The Child •Education Begins From Pre Birth •All Children Have Potential •Children Develop At Their Own Pace •Children Are Connected To Family & Community •Educators Are Partners & Guides •Parents Are Partners & Should Be Involved At All Stages •Education Is About Asking Questions & Independent Thinking •Children Learn Through The Senses, Movement & According To Nature 7
  8. 8. •Freedom Comes Through Self Discipline Not Enforcement •Concrete Materials Lead To Abstract Concepts •Children Need To Interact With & Explore The Outdoors •Learning Is Inseparable From Spiritual & Emotional Development The majority of educational theorists have been male. A number of these males have suffered some form of setbacks or emotional upsets in their lives. They have also responded to social depravation following periods of war. Education has undergone a number of changes. Some of these changes have been curriculum based. Others have been changes in the law or in the area of testing and examinations. There are a great number of different forms of education throughout the world. I have listed some of the main educational theories and methods associated with them. John Comenius: 1592 – 1670 Born Moravia, Czech Republic around the same time as Galileo, Rembrandt and Milton. The age of reason. Wrote more than 150 books on philosophy and theology. In favour of formal education for women. Holistic learning. Hugely influential on educational and religious reforms. • Education From Birth • Child Learns Through Senses • Knowledge Or Learning, Spiritual & Emotional Development Were Inseparable Who is there that does not always desire to see, hear, or handle something new? To whom is it not a pleasure to go to some new place daily, to converse with someone, to narrate something, or have some fresh experience? 8
  9. 9. In a word, the eyes, the ears, the sense of touch, the mind itself, are, in their search for food, ever carried beyond themselves; for to an active nature nothing is so intolerable as sloth. The proper education of the young does not consist in stuffing their heads with a mass of words, sentences, and ideas dragged together out of various authors, but in opening up their understanding to the outer world, so that a living stream may flow from their own minds, just as leaves, flowers, and fruit spring from the bud on a tree. Jean Jacques Rousseau: 1712 – 1778 Mother dies when he is born. Runs away at 16. Travelled and taught music. At 22 meets a woman and has 5 children. Gives them up to an orphanage and writes the book, Emile. Let Emile run about barefoot all year round. Let him learn to perform every exercise, which encourages every ability of the body. Believed in freedom, equality and justice. Critics wrote that Emile was responsible for provoking this obstinate, insolent, impudent, arrogant generation. • Self Reliance - Independence • Equality -Freedom & Justice • Freedom Of The Child • Observation Of The Child - World • Educated For Our Own Good Not A Corrupt Society Johann Pestalozzi: 1746 – 1827 Possibly the starting point of modern education. Founded the Battersea training centre in 1840. School for orphans in Stans following the French Revolution. Security in the home was the foundation of happiness. The mother important in the 9
  10. 10. upbringing and influence of emotional experiences. All children had an equal right to education. Children encouraged to observe concrete objects. Love, work and social interaction were the foundations of development. • Child Learns According To Nature & Learns Through Senses • Equal Rights • Child Learns Through Observation • Use Of Concrete Objects - Maths • Children Grouped According To Ability • Moveable Letters • Close Links Between Home & School Robert Owen: 1771 - 1858 Social change, equal rights, workplace nursery, art, music, geography, Friedrich Froebel: 1782 - 1852 Firm views on play and its place in child development. It fostered emotional well-being. Education vital to social reform. Kindergartens opened. First person to articulate a theory of education and put it into practice. Importance of the garden and mutual respect. Self expression through play. Role of the mother in education and play, mothers can teach too. Recruited women at a time when teaching was seen as a man’s role. Possibly influenced by the death of his mother. • Kindness & Respect • Education Through Play • Parental Involvement 10
  11. 11. • The Garden • A Pupil Of Pestalozzi • Moved Away From Curriculum John Dewey: 1859 - 1952 Studies philosophy, psychology and educational theory. Dewey advocated teachers having good general knowledge, knowing their children well, wanting to continue learning and observing children planning from what they learn from them. Children Learn Through Doing - Education Based On Real Life - Independence In Thinking - According To Nature - Formation Of Social Life - Value And Culture Of Family - Observation - Work Matches Age And Stage Of Development. Margaret McMillan: 1860 - 1931 Alleviating poverty, health and well-being, spirituality, free movement and experience according to nature. Rudolf Steiner: 1861 - 1925 Philosopher, concerned with the human struggle for inner freedom. Believed that children that have been pressured to succeed intellectually at too early an age often lack the motivation to learn for themselves. • Clarity Of Thought, Sensitivity Of Feeling & Strength Of Will • Introduction To Print At 7 years • Personal & Social Development • Child Sets The Pace 11
  12. 12. • Songs, Stories, Poems • Eurhythmy - Movement With Music & Language. Maria Montessori: 1870 - 1952 Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. In her work at the University of Rome's psychiatric clinic, Dr. Montessori developed an interest in the treatment of children and for several years wrote and spoke on their behalf. At age twenty-eight, she became the director of a school for mentally-disabled children. After two years under her guidance, these children, who formerly had been considered uneducable, took a school examination along with normal children and passed successfully. Educators called Dr. Montessori a miracle worker. What was her response? If mentally disabled children could be brought to the level of normal children, Dr. Montessori wanted to study the potential of "normal" children. She went back to school to study anthropology and psychology and finally, in 1907, was asked to take charge of fifty children from the dirty, desolate streets of the San Lorenzo slum in the city of Rome. Susan Isaacs: 1885 - 1948 Free play; learn by doing, observation, and emotional wellbeing Jean Piaget: 1896 – 1980 Piaget’s writings on the science of education are prolific. He has insisted that the preschool child is given any opportunity for the development of sensory motor functions “in the full sense of free manipulation”. He suggests that early years teachers need specialized theoretical and practical courses of instruction in order to help children learn through sensory motor manipulation. Ist stage drawn from 12
  13. 13. physical action, taste, touch, smell, sound, sight, etc 2nd stage taking objects in the environment and using words to represent them. Logic rests on incomplete knowledge. The trees make the wind, etc. 3rd stage, logical thoughts develops with classification or categorisation of similar and different objects. 4th stage is orderly thinking and mastery of logical thought. • Sensorimotor Stage 0 to 2 years • Preoperational Stage 2 to 6 years • Concrete Operational Stage 7 to 11 years • Formal Operations Stage 12 to adult Lev Vygotsky: 1896 - 1934 Social interaction and language, observation, matching task to competence Burrhus Skinner: 1904 – 1990 Nurture Versus Nature John Bowlby: 1907 – 1990 Attachment Theory Jerome Bruner: 1915 Children represent their ideas through play, building or painting, symbolically through language. 13
  14. 14. Louis Malaguzzi: 1920 – 1964 All children have potential, connected to their family, want to receive and give, are communicators, environment is third teacher, educators are partners and nurturers, educators are researchers, documentation is important for communication, parents are partners, education is about asking questions Paulo Freire: 1921 – 1997 Social justice and equality, analyze daily lives, talking and exploring ideas, learning with not from the teacher High / Scope Approach The child is at the centre of the wheel of learning. Everything outside of this centre should support the child to be an active learner and be seen as playing an equal role. High Scope Approach Developed To Serve Children At Risk Of School Failure In Yspilanti, Michigan, USA. Now In Use In More Than 20 Countries Worldwide "Through active learning — having direct and immediate experiences and deriving meaning from those experiences through reflection — young children construct knowledge that helps them make sense of their world. The High/Scope preschool approach has encouraged children to develop initiative. Through the daily plan-do-review process, children express their intentions, carry them out, and then reflect on what they have done. As active learners, children develop their own interests, generate ways to answer their questions, and share their discoveries with others. Supported by adults who are genuinely interested in what they say and do, children are able to construct their own understanding of the world around them and gain a sense of control and personal satisfaction. 14
  15. 15. The High/Scope Curriculum works because it empowers children to follow through on their interests purposefully and creatively. In the process, children develop initiative, interest, curiosity, resourcefulness, independence, and responsibility — habits of mind that will serve them well throughout their lives” (Weikart P. & Hohmann M. 2002). Margaret Donaldson: 1926 Thinking is concerned wit the here and now, thinking includes specific events recalled from specific events, thinking involves considering how things are in the world or the nature of things, two forms of construct include intellectual and doing as well as value-sensing such as appreciating music or art, logic thought and spiritual thought. Howard Gardener: 1943 Multiple intelligence, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical, spatial – sense of space, naturalist. Te Whariki Well being, belonging, contribution, communication, exploration. Forest Schools Independence, self-esteem, the natural world, outdoors, Learn by doing. 15
  16. 16. Montessori In Romania Nicolae Ceaucescu in his role as First Secretary of Romania banned contraception in a bid to increase the population of pure-blooded Romanians and supply a labour force for his vision of a highly industrialised nation In 1974 he became president, and by the early 1980s the ban was clearly not working. This led to legislation enforcing all women under 45 to have at least 5 children. Life became unbearable for women with regular enforced gynaecological examinations and Special Secret Police brought in to check that no contraception was being used. With no child benefit and little food for babies, many families were forced to abandon children to the hospitals and orphanages. In excess of 10,000 unwanted children were left to be looked after by untrained and inexperienced staff with totally inadequate resources. Ceaucescu's reign ended in 1989 with his trial and execution, leaving behind tremendous misery and a nation with little to support itself as it ventured down the long road towards building a democratic society. In 1990, more than 20,000 women were admitted to hospital in Bucharest alone. Most had problems arising from illegal abortions during the Ceaucescu period. In the same year there were over 600 babies with full-blown AIDS ( Olivia Harrison, the wife of George Harrison wrote the following statement for the Romanian Angel Appeal’s website. In a country starved of the basic commodities of life, paralyzed by a political climate of fear and corruption, thousands of children, abandoned at birth, emerged into the world at the very bottom of the heap. Their birthright was not a life, merely an existence. Resources were so depleted that in the worst cases children were confined to their cots for years, kept alive on a diet of powdered milk. All were deprived of that most essential form of human 16
  17. 17. nourishment...Love ( In 1989 The Berlin wall fell. There was revolution In Romania. Another crime against humanity was about to be exposed. The media would show images of starving children sitting in filthy conditions. It is my belief that the Western world was more outraged because the children were white. We had been witnessing terrible images from Africa for a number of years. Bob Geldof had commented that we were becoming indifferent to such images. An album titled, ‘Nobody’s Child’ was released to raise funds. Supporters included, Elton John, Jeff Lynne and Bryan Adams. Romania attracted the attention of a number of famous people including, Mother Theresa and Michael Jackson. Both visited Bucharest to lend their support. Romania is a very poor country. The shops contained very little to buy. When we went shopping, people would surround us and look at what we were buying. Sometimes they would call members of their family to come out and have a look at us. I was assaulted on a few occasions. On one incident, a man held a knife to me and demanded that I gave him the girls I was with. We did have a lot of Gypsies trying to pick our pockets. We were not paid very much by Western standards. We received $12 per month; it was a fortune in Romania. We also changed our dollars on the black market. We more than trebled the pay every week. We did live a life of luxury in comparison with our Romanian colleagues. We also liked to party and drink champagne. I really believed that my efforts could help to change things for the better. Many different organisations rush in to every disaster area. Some of them have a religious base. Many of the people that we met were not suitable to work with the children and Romanian staff. They made too many judgments too quickly. It made them feel better 17
  18. 18. if the children were dressed in Marks and Spencer clothes. The younger amongst the group made an effort to make friends and learn the language. It was very useful and opened up a number of doors. The others lived in fear and became a burden on us. The journey to Romania and Constanta was interesting to say the least. As we came into land at Bucharest airport, we saw people planting vegetables at the side of the runways. There were armed soldiers everywhere. We were hassled by soldiers, gypsies and taxi drivers. The whole place seemed chaotic. The infrastructure was very poor. Roads just disappeared into nowhere. There were huge holes everywhere along the road. Public transport was old and decaying. The French government did provide some aid and provided modern police cars and buses. It was difficult for the average Romanian to get from A to B. Having driven a few hundred miles on terrible roads, we arrived in Constanta. It is a small city on the Black Sea coast. There is a seaport and University there. The city was made up of old style villas, which had been dwarfed by enormous high-rise flats. These structures were prone to collapse and infested with cockroaches. Water supplies were infrequent and not drinkable. The government controlled heating and electric. It was unreliable to say the least. Our first home was in a series of rented apartments in the middle of the city. It was a tram ride away from the hospital. A number of locals became aware of our presence and visited us more frequently than we would have wished. We worked hard by day and played hard by night. We quickly fell into the ex pat trap and went out boozing and dancing. It was a form of release from the conditions we were in. The chairman of the Royal College of Nursing and the Romanian Angel Appeal had 18
  19. 19. selected the team. We did not know each other otherwise. There were three nurses and myself. We were taken to the Municipal hospital. The conditions there were too much for me. I could not bear the smell or the conditions. Children were clearly dying in their cots during the time we were there. The girls had more resolve and literally began work, there and then. I was driven to the Post Cure area for children. It was a small building on the other side of the city. The children here were HIV positive but not in the later stages. They were in terrible condition and required an enormous amount of work. I approached one of the rooms where a number of children were banging their heads against the walls. I took out my harmonica and began to play. A number of the children looked up and listened. The doctor grabbed my arm and literally begged me to stay. The rest is history. One of the main difficulties in working anywhere else in the world is an obvious language problem. There were many weeks to come when I felt totally isolated in a building full of people looking in a t me and jabbering in Romanian. Through a determination to learn and primitive gestures, the communication began. I learned a number of important Romanian words. I learned in parallel with the children. It was important not to focus on teaching them English. It was comical to hear them learn some English and Welsh words. The most important words they required were, apa – water, masa – food, toaletta – toilet, bolnav – sick, etc. The Romanian staff always suffered hardships. It was amazing that they could summon up the time and energy to show an interest in what I was doing. They could show amazing kindness. There was always one or two who could be brutal. They too, had to be worked with not judged. I had good intentions of using the Montessori Method within the establishment. Montessori requires that the child was normalised and that there was a prepared environment. Neither of these existed. The message Montessori had received from the children in the slums was ‘Help me do it 19
  20. 20. myself’. In hindsight, this was also the message I received from the children in the orphanages. The majority of educational theories have been based on the observation and study of groups of children. I was aware of this and determined to take the time to observe not only the children, but also the culture and environment. Montessori saw the environment as crucial in her theory. The teacher and environment were responsive to the needs of the child. The teacher is an observer, a directress. The didactic apparatus allows the child freedom to develop at their own pace in the areas of sensory, motor and intellectual development. I took a number of Montessori materials with me. These were to be used at a later stage. During the time that I worked in Romania, I came under fire from my own staff team. They thought that I was too detached and not actively involved enough. Observation is something which can be misinterpreted as ‘doing nothing’. At one point I was summoned home to explain my methods. I explained that the other team members were too emotionally involved, working themselves to death and judging the Romanians. I was asked to return and continue to guide the project in a direction, which would see an effective handover to the Romanians. 20
  21. 21. Dr. Maria Montessori and The Montessori Method Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. In her work at the University of Rome's psychiatric clinic, Dr. Montessori developed an interest in the treatment of children and for several years wrote and spoke on their behalf. At age twenty- eight, she became the director of a school for mentally disabled children. After two years under her guidance, these children, who formerly had been considered uneducable, took a school examination along with normal children and passed successfully. Educators called Dr. Montessori a miracle worker. What was her response? If mentally disabled children could be brought to the level of normal children, Dr. Montessori wanted to study the potential of "normal" children. She went back to school to study anthropology and psychology and finally, in 1907, was asked to take charge of fifty children from the dirty, desolate streets of the San Lorenzo slum in the city of Rome. Multi-aged Grouping, based on Periods of Development: Children are grouped in three or six-year spans and have the same teacher for this. The 3-Hour Work Period: At every age, a minimum of one 3-hour work period per day, uninterrupted by required attendance at group activities of any kind is required for the Montessori method of education to produce the results for which it is famous. The Human Tendencies: The practical application of the Montessori method is based on human tendencies— to explore, move, share with a group, to be independent and make decisions, create order, develop self-control, abstract ideas from experience, use the creative imagination, work hard, repeat, concentrate, and perfect one's efforts. 21
  22. 22. The three stages of learning (Stage 1) introduction to a concept by means of a lecture, lesson, something read in a book, etc. (Stage 2) processing the information, developing an understanding of the concept through work, experimentation, and creation. (Stage 3) "knowing", to possessing an understanding of, demonstrated by the ability to pass a test with confidence, to teach another, or to express with ease. Indirect Preparation: The steps of learning any concept are analyzed by the adult and are systematically offered to the child. A child is always learning something that is indirectly preparing him to learn something else, making education a joyful discovery instead of drudgery. The Prepared Environment: Since the child learns to glean information from many sources, instead of being handed it by the teacher, it is the role of the teacher to prepare and continue to adapt the environment, to link the child to it through well-thought-out lessons, and to facilitate the child's exploration and creativity. Observation: Scientific observations of the child's development are constantly carried out and recorded by the teacher. These observations are made on the level of concentration of each child, the introduction to and mastery of each piece of material, the social development, physical health, etc. on. Work Centers: The environment is arranged according to subject area, and children are always free to move around the room, and to continue to work on a piece of material with no time limit. There are no text books, and seldom will two or more children be studying the same 22
  23. 23. thing at the same time. Children learn directly from the environment, and from other children—rather than from the teacher. The teacher is trained to teach one child at a time, with a few small groups and almost no lessons given to the whole class. She is facile in the basic lessons of math, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child's research and exploration, capitalizing on interests and excitement about a subject. Large groups occur only in the beginning of a new class, or in the beginning of the school year, and are phased out as the children gain independence. The child is scientifically observed, observations recorded and studied by the teacher. Children learn from what they are studying individually, but also from the amazing variety of work that is going on around them during the day. Class Size: The most successful 3-6 or 6-12 classes are of 30-35 children to one teacher, with one non teaching assistant, this number reached gradually over 1-3 years. This provides the most variety of personalities, learning styles, and work being done at one time. This class size is possible because the children learn from each other and stay with the same teacher for three to six years. . Basic Lessons: A well-trained Montessori teacher spends a lot of time during training practicing the many basic lessons with materials in all areas. She/he must pass difficult written and oral exams on these lessons in order to be certified. She is trained to recognize a child's readiness—according to age, ability, and interest—for a specific lesson, and is prepared to guide individual progress. Although the teacher plans lessons for each child for each day, she will bow to the interests of a child following a passion. Areas of Study Linked: All subjects are interwoven; history, art, music, math, astronomy, biology, geology, physics, and chemistry are not isolated from each other and a child studies them in any order he chooses, moving through all in a unique way for each child. At any one time in a day all subjects—math, language, science, history, geography, art, music, etc.—are being studied, at all levels. 23
  24. 24. Comparison Of Montessori And Traditional Pre-School Education Montessori Traditional Three year age span All one age Motivated by self development Teacher motivated Ungraded Graded Self Correcting Teacher corrects Learn by handling materials Teacher lectures Individual learning Group learning Teacher observes and directs Teacher is focal point Child completes activities Frequent interruptions Freedom of movement Assigned seats Emphasis on cognitive learning Social development Quiet by choice and regard Quiet enforced Materials used for purpose Used for many things Work for joy and discovery Work because told to Environment provides discipline Teacher disciplines Encouraged to help each other Seek help from teacher Child chooses materials Teacher sets curriculum Child sets pace Teacher sets pace Child free to discover Teacher guides child Emphasis on concrete Emphasis on abstract Reality orientated Role play and fantasy Specific place for materials Random placement Child provides learning stimulus Teacher provides Child centered environment Teacher centered environment Self education didactic equipment Use of reward and punishment Recognition of sensitive periods All children treated alike Multisensory materials develop skills Play materials non specific skills 24
  25. 25. The Portage Method Portage is named after the town of Portage in Wisconsin, USA. It was developed there as a way of supporting parents in helping their children in their own homes. The idea of taking the service to the family homes was tried there because in that rural area parents found it difficult to get to centre-based services. Portage supports families from the time that the additional needs are first apparent - this can be soon after birth or at any time in the pre-school period. All Home Visitors working in registered services must have completed a Portage Basic Workshop run by a trainer accredited with the NPA. Portage is a straightforward set of indexed cards covering all areas of development. They can be implemented immediately. Each behaviour corresponds to an activity card, which lists detailed suggestions for the teaching of the behaviour. 624 behaviours, which are divided into six areas of development. 1 Infant stimulation 2 Self help 3 Motor 4 Socialization 5 Cognitive 6 Language The behaviours also relate to three areas 1 Current skills - activities which teach a known skill in a new situation, widen the child’s use of that skill and stimulate its general use by the child 2 Emerging skills - activities designed in response to emerging skills, reinforce those skills and bring them into more regular use. 3 Skills deficit - specific skill deficits require careful teaching because they represent 25
  26. 26. areas where the child has particular difficulty. Suggestions on the appropriate activity cards need to be carefully modified to take into account activities and materials that reinforce the child. The Portage Early Education Programme also contains The Wessex Revised Language Checklist. There is parental and teacher guidance at every stage. Record sheets are used to document progress. This programme was extremely useful in the institutions. My approach was to divide the children by age. Children occupied the top floor 0 to 3 years. Children occupied the ground floor 3 years upwards. All I had to do was observe behaviour and keep records. During the evening, I would make some plans for improving the environment and implementing items marked as skills deficits. We never dreamed that this simple method of observation and recording would play an important part in the handover of the project. Each day would include a selection of activities in each of the areas of development. These were implemented in a casual way and observed. Records were updated at the end of each day. They would be used to lobby the ministry of health and education. The programme was also unofficially translated into Romanian. We identified three rooms, which we wanted to use for the children. One was a classroom and the other two were holding areas where the children could move freely. The building had two floors. The ground floor housed the older children. These were about two years of age upwards. The top floor housed the less able children and the babies. Medicines Sans Frontiers had already done some work here. World Vision had taken over the running of it. After some negotiations, World vision agreed to work upstairs whilst we worked downstairs. We developed a routine of taking children out of the salons and into one of the three rooms. We would only carry the ones that had no strength to crawl. We worked with 26
  27. 27. small groups or one to one. The children were place in the room and we used a variety of items to stimulate their development. A ball for rolling, music or instruments to listen to. blowing bubbles, etc. Most of the children continued to bang their heads against the walls. Even when we moved them to the centre of the room, they would go back and bang their heads. We established set times for meals and toilet training and the Doctor’s rounds. The general feeling amongst the staff was that we had no hope. The children quickly adapted and responded to the routine. The less able were bottle-fed and we encouraged them to move toward their food or sit up and feed. This new regime meant that the staff had less work. They did not have to change so many cloth nappies. We designated a communal area for the children to eat. Tables and chairs were child sized. We encouraged the children to wash themselves and brush their teeth. Each brush had their name on it to stop cross infection. The classroom was established and gradually, our first pupils entered voluntarily. We used a combination of Montessori materials and other equipment, which improved motor control, coordination, self-help and language. Within a year, we had a definite split in the ability levels of children. A number had become independent. This left us free to focus on the less able. By now, the staff had become involved and were using the more able children to help them. Communication between them was good and the staff taught the children Romanian songs and stories. The obvious problem was always that we only had so many pairs of hands and 27
  28. 28. limited time. I had become interested in the Romanian education system out of curiosity. I went to visit a kindergarten school and was impressed with it. The ratio was 1 to 35. They also used Montessori and the ministry of education within schools accepted it. The questions I asked were 1. How would they feel having a HIV Positive child in their class? 2. How much did they know about HIV? 3. Would they like to know more? 4. Would they visit an institution? 5. Would they work in an institution? The answers were all positive. My second experience was to visit a teacher training college for pre school educators. This was the centre for excellence in the city. I asked the same questions and the answers were positive. I was asked to return and give a talk on HIV Aids. 60 students and 6 professors attended it. They were interested in the methods we used with the children and asked me back to talk about this. 35 students attended the talk along with 6 professors. Some students approached me with a view to helping at the institution. The director of the college would not approve. After a general meeting of doctors and educators in the city, I was asked to give a talk on the work of the Romanian Angel Appeal. I was invited to talk at several schools but by now, we had formed a panel of Romanian professionals whom were responsible for promoting sex education and HIV – Aids awareness. Acet and the Red Cross were interested in what I was doing and invited me to talk at the training college for nurses. Some students were interested in contributing to Aids education. Dr. Popescu became interested and wanted me to approach the Director of Education to ask for educators within the institutions. 28
  29. 29. In my spare time, I managed to get the Portage Method translated into Romanian. We were careful to make considerations for cultural and religious differences. I also managed to get cards printed off by a friend I made at the local newspaper. With this method and the offer of training for the students, we secured an agreement between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. Our first volunteer teachers and nurses began to work at the hospital and post cure centre. We also established the Sunflower clinic at the hospital. This acted as a screening and information centre. We were also able to reunite children with their parents. Some children actually left for home or went for weekend stays. After almost two and a half years involved with the project, we were able to hand over to another team. Their responsibility was to tie up the loose ends and withdraw. The next shock was arriving back in the U.K. and coming to terms with the way of life. Some people were offered counselling on return. I chose not to have any and sought peace in the mountains of Snowdonia. I had always felt strongly about what was going on in the world. I wanted to go to Africa with VSO. They would not accept me because I did not have any qualifications. I also tried Oxfam and a few other agencies. It has become more difficult to work abroad with Non Governmental Agencies. As Romania progresses in the transition from Communism to democracy, the abilities of the government will be increasingly challenged. The creation of a strategic plan on the magnitude of the Government Strategy Concerning the Protection of the Child in Difficulty is a solid beginning. The plan acknowledges the responsibility of the government and the nation in correcting the transgressions of previous decades. The incorporation of a strategic plan of this magnitude into the national agenda is a positive step. It is a learning process, in which Romania has made many mistakes. The growing openness and inclusiveness of the reform process, and the increasing 29
  30. 30. availability of government documents and data to average citizens, are encouraging signs. Essentially, the National Strategy for Child at Risk has little chance for success as a stand along program. The enforcement and accountability standards are weak. Combined with intensive reform efforts across the board, the potential for improvement exists. Concerted effort by politicians, political reform and economic development, growing civil society development and participation by non-state actors, an increased desire for participation by citizens as decentralization brings government closer to the people, and better accountability mechanisms are all necessary ingredients for child welfare reform to succeed. But only with activity in all of these areas will the effort have a chance at success. Realistically, three years is not enough time to fully achieve the stated objectives. A concentrated effort, over a longer span of time, can bring about substantial progress. With prodding by the European Union, child welfare reform has become a priority for the Romanian Government, which is the first step. Determined to proceed with integration, believing the only future lies with Europe, Romania has a long road ahead. Writing this piece and putting the Power Point together has sparked some great memories. The ones you tend to remember most are the good ones. Perhaps that is how we all get through life’s tragedies. I have likened the experience to that of Dr. Maria Montessori when she entered the slums of San Lorenzo. I have read almost every volume of her works and maintain that mankind could solve its problems with Dr. Maria Montessori’s Methods. The department of education does not recognize the Montessori Method of education for use within mainstream schools. The teacher training covers a number of areas which mainstream has washed over. Teachers are trained in the instruction of 30
  31. 31. teaching reading writing and spelling. They are required to demonstrate a complete understanding of these processes. They are also required to make a set of didactic materials for this purpose. The movement has continued to grow. It is still used in a number of countries around the world as the main stay of primary education. It is also the preferred choice of most private nurseries in the London area. Royal palaces around the world employ governesses trained in the Montessori method. In conclusion, one has to consider whether this educational method would be part of mainstream if Maria Montessori had been a man. The Nazis hounded her out of Europe. They considered her theories as dangerous and encompassing all, which they opposed. The majority of learning materials available for multisensory learning today stem from Montessori’s materials. We are only just scraping the surface of research into embryonic development and child development. Many of her writings were seen as flowery and too far from the norm of the male dominated theorists of the time. Today we are reaping the benefits and witnessing the truth within her writings. During a ceremony honouring this amazing lady, she addressed the audience and said, “Look not at the outstretched finger but what it is pointing to, look at the child”. For me, the words, which contain the essence of the method, are as follows, I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand 31
  32. 32. Bibliography Dodge Diane Trister & Colker Laura J. Creative Curriculum for Early Childhood Evans A. The Phonic Farm: Indigo Childrens Books Hainstock E. The Essential Montessori: Plume Books Kamii C. The Primary Program: Growing And Learning In The Heartland Kamii C. & Devries R. Group Games in Early Education: Implications of Piaget's Theory, NAEYC Montessori M. The Montessori Method: Schocken Books Pound L. How Children Learn: Step Forward Publishing Williams C. & Kamii C. How do young children learn by handling objects? Young Children, Volume 42, Number 1, 1986. Photos 3, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, Alan Evans 1 & 5 Wober DeJohng 6, Romanian Angel Appeal 7, Aline Marzin 11, 13, St Nicholas Montessori Centre Image 2 & 4, Illustrations © Keith Sparrow & Jennifer Tyler 32