In the month of May, June and July, there is a wonderful lineup of of courses and events that will benefit parents, teachers, practitioners and educationists on all levels and for children of all ages. I am pretty excited to list them here. And if you have the opportunity to attend or intend to attend, do share with us here, it is always delectable and delightful to read about other people’s insight about the revolution of education.
1) The HANDLE team will be in Kuala Lumpur on 25, 26 & 27 May to introduce Level 1 and 2 courses
2) Spend your school holiday at Bali, and while you are there spend a long weekend with nature and Green School’s team. Trust me, there is no other way to rejuvenate the teaching spirit in you!
The idea of having a small classroom size of children with a low ratio of two teachers and 16-20 students between the ages of two and a half and six years is an attractive concept to lure parents that teachers can actually focus better on the children’s needs. I also remembered emphasising this point of ‘the lesser the better’ to students of Diploma in Early Childhood Education. However, I also vividly remember that Maria Montessori had only an assistant with her in her classroom of over forty children of mixed-age group. And yes, I always wonder how does that happen in a classroom of young children.
I was encouraged to look into the ‘size matter’ again after reading Mary Flewelling’s Size Matters article in Tomorrow’s Child Magazine (Sept 2009). How my eyes, mind and heart was opened and expanded by the write up! Mary also shared the same concern and enlightenment as I have, but she was more ‘fortunate’ to work in a class of 44 mixed-age group students.
Allow me to remind you of Maria Montessori’s old records that normalisation actually happened in her class which had a high teacher/student ratio, and schools (in the States and Canada) which practise the Montessori curriculum can actually accommodate large numbers of students. Now, the next looming question would be: how on earth can that happen? Mary Flewelling delved into the matter and found out several reasons and conditions that need to be fulfilled for normalisation to occur in real life.
1) Children of age 2 1/2 – 6 can be seen busy working with the materials in the classroom. Teachers must make sure materials are available for that range of age and are arranged in sequential order. The more children there are in a classroom, chances of seeing them getting busy with an activity is higher compared to a smaller amount of children. Children will naturally get attracted and be inquisitive when they see another child working with a material. This happens all the time, even at home. A positive learning environment will definitely slowly and gradually flourish in this young community.
2) I love this one. “In a well-populated casa classroom… the adults assume the correct role in the environment…finding it impossible to be involved with each and every activity that occurs.” I couldn’t agree more with this. As a result of less involvement of the teacher and more observing and facilitating teachers learn to follow rather than lead. Less interruption from the teacher will provide more opportunities for older students to help their younger mates. On the other hand, children who slowly realise that an adult is not always available to rely on, which is always the case in the real world, will learn to ask help from other friends or become more independent, confident and resourceful to resolve any issues or matter.
3) I’m so in love with this one too. Dr. Montessori once said “…keep running from child to child, thus spreading the contagion of her (refering to her assistant directresses) own anxiety and wearisome lack of calm.” Now, I’ve gladly etched this statement in my soul. I believe that negative thoughts and feelings can transform into negative behaviour and all negative concerns should be thrown outside the classroom before welcoming the first child in the morning. Dr Montessori also reminded us to not to “feel solely responsible for everything that happened around her”, instead as teachers, we should have the confidence in our students that they, and the environment are the best teachers.
4) A large class situation allows a more dynamic and diversified social interaction, and a group of mixed age children reduce academic comparisons and competition. If I’m not mistaken a good proportion of the number of each age group is like a pyramid’s proportion, with the oldest age being at the bottom of the pyramid. So, for example in a class of 30, there would be ten 6 yrs old, eight 5 yrs old, seven 4 yrs old and five 3 yrs old.
5) One thing we need to remember about normalisation, , is a number of 3-year cycles of learning must be implied in a real Montessori setting, which is impossible to be practiced in Malaysia. That means children will have the same teachers for three years before going to the next elementary stage.
Mary Flewelling releases the worms in the can when she bares the ultimate questions to junior teachers and parents, which I sincerely agree and always press on parents especially when discussing about their children’s future:
Are we working to give our students and academic headstart? If the answer is yes, then a low teacher/student ratio is the key to an optimum classroom situation.
Are we striving to impart something less tangible but infinitely more valuable, such as developing a life time of intellectual traits, self-directed learners, independent thinkers, socially adept? If the answer is yes, then a larger or higher teacher/student ration is the key to a successful Montessori classroom.
This is my first own video on Montessori World. It is my lesson plan of making a box from a piece of A4 printed paper. Now I need not throw away all the unwanted printed paper at the printer’s shelf. And those supermarket brochures, you know what to do with them if too many of them are taking space in that little storeroom of yours!
Make A Box Part 1
Make A Box Part 2
Enthralled by the psychological aspect of young children from 6-12 years old and the similarities of Dr. Montessori’s view and Piaget’s educational and psychological philosophy regarding this group of children, which was categorised by him as belong to the concrete operational stage, I would like to share an excerpt from Tomorrow’s Child magazine, issue Spring, 1996, pg.13:
The… important tasks (for children in elementary years) are:
- to learn how to build positive relationships with friends and neighbours, extending toward the global community.
- to address seriously the questions of aid to the elderly, handicapped, critically ill and economically disadvantaged.
- to explore international issues from the perspective of building bridges toward world peace and study ecology, wildlife preservation, and conservation of natural resources.
- to become directly engaged in acts of charity, gathering food, toys and clothing for the poor.
- to make effort to try to understand war, violence, poverty and the homeless.
More importantly, they struggle with what they can do to make the world a better place.
As I read the two final paragraphs of the article ‘Elementary Montessori Education’ again and again and again, I can’t help but to feel this overly sense of pressure and responsibility as an educator on how to empower and inspire as well as guide and mentor this group of children in fulfilling their prophecies, destinies and ambitions. There is so much more that I need to relearn and learn about moral education, environmental knowledge, global issues, and further more to enhance their awareness and judgement without instilling my own authoritative opinion or values on them. The understanding must come from within them, not from me directly. I am only the messenger and the person who is holding the lamp; I hope these children will be the limbs of a movement that will certainly make a change to their communities and the world by spreading the light and brightness of goodness and positivism.
Calling all teachers, educators, parents, students and all who are seeking to enrich their knowledge on Montessori education and special educational needs related issues, this is a special announcement for all of you!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals
In case you have not heard of it anywhere else, listen to this from the horse’s mouth herself, yeah that’s me. An association was established years ago in Malaysia to invite Malaysian Montessori teachers, lecturers or parents to join hands by using this platform as a place to discuss or spread any Montessori-related news to the public.
In March 2013, the Malaysian Association of Malaysia (MAM) is holding a two-day forum with the theme ‘Special Educational Needs’. Itinerary of events, including inviting experts from the education field, is still being finalised.
This event is a truly non-profitable event. Hence any type of contribution and help is eagerly received by the organising members who are mainly volunteers who maintain the running of MAM. If you would like to give a helping hand, feel free to contact the people whose names are printed on the poster below.
After the sound cylinders exercise in the Sensorial area, the Montessori Bells is introduced to extend the child’s ability in distinguishing musical pitch. [I would like to revisit Montessori Bells, if there is anybody who is willing to teach me. This activity was not emphasised during my Montessori teacher training period.]
This is how they look.
Each bell is tuned to a whole or a half note on the musical scale. The entire set is equal to one entire octave, including sharps and flats. The set has:
1) Tan base: One set of both half and whole notes. (= 8 + 5 bells)
2) White base: One set of whole notes. (=8 bells)
3) Black base: One set of sharp and flat pitches. (= 5 bells)
1st: Learn how to hold, place and bring the bells.
2nd: Learn how to strike bells with a mallet and dampen with a felt-covered rod.
3rd: Match the pairs that produce identical notes.
4th: Grade bells of one set by pitch, from lowest to the highest notes.
5th and much later: play simple melodies.
If you are interested to download the virtual Montessori bells and allow your child to use it on ipad or laptop, here is the link Montessori Bells Online.
Spare some time during the holiday season to gain 5 more buckets of knowledge, especially if your child is attending a Montessori school, or if you want to gain another certification as a teacher.
And if Singapore or any other places in the world are too far for your money or wings to spread, there is another venue for meeting Montessorians and it’s just right here in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. I was told the place has been confirmed at HELP University College. There will also be a 5-day workshop (10th – 14th Dec) after the forum.The forum is scheduled to be held in March 2013.
The official poster is not released yet. Hence,I’m using the one below to promote and to recruit volunteer for the event.