About a month ago, I had a rare but golden opportunity to interview Visha, a mental health advocator who is also undergoing counselling sessions as treatment for schizophrenia, and her mum, Maladavi, who is a Montessori educator. The interview conducted was part of a completion for my assignment on the subject of Counselling.
Visha appeared to me as a 22-year-old petite, but rather gutsy lady who can articulate her opinion and perception well, with much boldness and confidence. Initially, she was shy and had very few eye contact with me. However, as our conversation steered towards awareness on mental health and learning disabilities, her eyes started to spark as she ignited her words about her experiences along the road to recovery as a schizophrenic patient. Personally, I felt very fortunate and honoured to meet such a wonderful young lass who has discovered and mapped out a journey for her future and her ambition of helping people who share similar experiences as her. Mental health is still a stigma in Malaysia, but with the grace of Visha’s presence, I’m sure the public will open their eyes a little bit more to recognise and accept mental illnesses like any other physical illnesses. Prevention is better than cure. With early intervention strategies available especially for children of very young age, the risks and uncertainties of mental illnesses can be mitigated and patients/sufferers can live in harmony with their families and communities.
Visha’s mum, Maladavi, who is a Montessori educator, said that her experiences while studying and working in Montessori schools in Thailand and Malaysia, had actually helped her to detect the early symptoms of delayed developmental problem since Visha was in kindergarten. Mala’s acute observation skill had captured the signs but help was not available at that time. When Visha’s condition started to deteriorate as she stepped into primary and secondary schools, Mala decided to seek help from a psychiatrist and the healing journey began. Again, her skills as a Montessori trainer and educator, such as preparing Practical Life activities that assisted Visha in gaining in her independence, principle of isolation and utilising her strength rather than her weakness to enhance her quality of life, has given Visha the strength and motivation to emerge from the swamp of mental sickness.
Well, if you would like to meet the young lady behind the facade of schizophrenia, or if you would like her to talk about real life experience of being a mental health patient, do contact her at Facebook (Visha Arunagiri) or http://www.vishalsmindscreations.com. She has written about her experiences with schizophrenia in a self-published book ‘In My Shoes: Part One’ and has just embarked on a hobby/business similar to mine – Beading. Yes, love those beads!
Another wonderful way to use toilet rolls for decoration purpose. This activity can be performed independently by a 5/6 year old child.
1. Shape the end of the toilet roll into a heart shape by squeezing it.
2. Put the toilet roll into a pot of glue and press the roll onto a piece of paper.
3. Then, sprinkle salt, coloured rice or glitter on the heart patterns. Wait for the patterns to dry before cutting out two heart shapes to make the butterfly.
Chinese New Year is one of the most celebrated festivals in Malaysia. During this period, I was searching frantically for books to be added into the collection of books with festival themes in my library. A local Facebook group that I recently joined introduced me to the gems below and other online foreign booksellers.
Title: Celebrating Chinese Festivals
Author: Sanmu Tang
Go to ITEM.TAOBAO.COM or http://tb.cn/uAeV2Iy for a good bargain.
If you are in Kuala Lumpur, go to this event and support Malaysian Nature Society. I am their number one fan since secondary school.
In Malaysia, Moral Studies is taught in kindergartens and schools to non-Muslim students, perhaps two or three times a week. In Montessori classrooms worldwide, moral values are inculcated and practiced throughout the day. The motion of ‘Peace’ is a part of daily routine. The moment a child steps into the classroom, moral lessons are imparted on him by other peers and himself mostly. There is no need for a teacher to expose or preach an exclusive lesson on him.
Yesterday, MSA UK opened a discussion channel about the child and peace at their twitter site. Barbara Isaac was there to moderate the conversation. (My intention to participate in the discussion failed as my twitter account was not registered successfully.) I watched the one-hour conversation took place on the screen as I was not able to sign in. Although there were not more than ten tweets during the discussion, some valid questions were raised such as how Montessori education can foster peace through basic practical life exercises and whether children can change or cannot change the world.
For more twitter chat on this topic, go to https://twitter.com/montessoriuk.
As usual, I am drooling at this event which will be held in two months in London, England. MAS airlines ended a promising fare deal of return ticket today. So, other than drooling, I am also kicking myself in the air and biting my fingers. If any one wishes to sponsor me in exchange of a one day workshop highlighting the agendas covered in the event, I will be utterly grateful to receive a message from you. ;)
The MSA (Montessori School Association) conference on 21st March 2015 will discuss topics on Technology and Play, as well as matters relating to Montessori’s materials and principles. Besides this event, there is also a topic on School Readiness which will be given by Barbara Isaac a month after the conference. Both topics, Technology and School Readiness, are currently content of assignments that are related to my studies.
To know more about the conference, you can visit the website at http://www.montessori.org.uk/msa/msa/conference.
I have also added pertaining information here, including regular workshops and a Twitter chat on Peace & Education on 28 January.
MSA Conference on “Technology and Montessori in the 21st Century’ 21st March 2015.
Only a few days left for the MSA member’s early bird discount (only £45 per member) valid until 31 January 2015. £20 for current MCI students booking before 28 February 2015. Regular tickets cost £55 for MSA members and £85 for non-members.
Our keynote speakers: Drs Christine Stephen and Lydia Plowman will show ways in which educators can support children’s play and learning with technologies in early years settings. David Gettman and Melanie Simpson will talk about how technological tools such as ‘My Montessori Child’ can enable teachers, parents and educational professionals to become companions of each child’s personal learning journey. Noureddin Khassal will talk about safeguarding children, teachers and parents in the digital world with particular importance on e-safety in the EYFS. And finally, Dr Paul Epstein will show how recent technological advances impact on children’s development and their learning and what this means to our time-honoured and treasured Montessori materials and principles.
Other MSA Events:
Sat 24 January 2015 R12– Positive Language Workshop with Sarah Rowledge
Sat 7 and 14 February 2015 R7 – First Aid training
Sat 21 March 2015 Childminder Network meeting – afternoon after the MSA Conference
Sat 18 April 2015 R7 – Gini Trower Nature with Children workshop
Sat 18 April 2015 R9 – School Readiness with Barbara Isaacs
Sat 25 April 2015 R10 – Positive Language and Communications with Sarah Rowledge
Sat 16 May 2015 R8 – Ali Golding, Movement Works
Sat 16 May 2015 R3 – Dance workshop
Sat 13 June 2015 Childminder – Topic to be announced
Sat 10 October 2015 Childminder – Cultural ideas exchange
Contact your regional chairs to find out more about region events in your area http://www.montessori.org.uk/msa/msa/msa_regions
Follow us on https://twitter.com/montessoriuk
Join us for a Twitter Chat about ‘Peace’ 28 January 2015 from 1-2pm
When we decided to feature Peace Education in the current issue of the Montessori International magazine it was prompted by the on-going conflict in Syria. We wanted to prompt the Montessori community into revisiting Montessori’s writing which urges educators to create condition enabling the child to become the herald of peace.
For many this will seem a utopian view of the world where the child has the capacity to reverse the historical trend of on-going conflict . In our Twitter Chat @MontessoriUK using #peace hashtag on 28 January 2015 from 1-2pm we hope to engage our readers and followers in considering:
Is it really possible to influence global trends and historical patterns through education?
Do children have the power to promote change in global attitudes to war?
Can the United Nations Charter for the Rights of the Child foster understanding of not only rights but also of responsibilities in children and young people?
What attitudes should be fostered in education to promote peaceful co-existence on our planet?
What can each one of us do to ensure children are aware of their unique power to affect change in the world?
Don’t forget to use the #peace hashtag to post a reply.
Let’s be a more responsible citizen by learning our roles in working together with nature to make this world better place to live. Those who are interested in permaculture course and will be in Kuala Lumpur at the end of the month of January 2015 could attend this introductory course and the course that follows after that.
Originally posted on Murujan:
Adab Towards the Earth: An Introduction to Permaculture
Organized by Murujan Permaculture Design in collaboration with CASIS
AbdurRahman McCausland provides a glimpse of Permaculture Design over two days of intense and knowledge-packed sessions. Adab is the Arabic word for etiquette. We generally concede that we should display proper etiquette with other people, but do we ever think about the etiquette we should show to the rest of creation?
Dates: January 31st and February 1st 2015 (930 am until 5 pm)
Venue: Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Semarak, Kuala Lumpur
Course Fee: Regular RM 250 (Early Bird RM 200*)
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This is what I called ‘education’. This is what I want to educate the children and leaders of tomorrow. This is the type of educator that I want to be.
“The students work on a project that’s one part science, one part exercise in cooperation, a dash of cultural awareness, and a big dose of compassion and charity.”
Primary school children learn engineering, science and moral studies through solar generator project in their after school activities from college students who are earning credits from their course subject ‘Introduction To Alternative and Renewable Energy’. The college professor applied and obtained for a grant as well as approaching a company, We Care Solar, which built the solar suitcases for hospitals in developing countries.
My vision and mission for a school, or any type of educational activities, encapsulates what is written in this article. Read it and your teaching life will be more rewarding, if not glamorous this new year. Happy Reading and Educating Year 2015!
My mum was diagnosed as having mild depression a year ago. She has no interest in a lot of her favourite activities and has to be reminded of the procedures needed to complete her daily routines such as taking a shower, having breakfast and going to the toilet. When we ask her anything, the answers are always “I don’t know.”, “Anything.” and “You tell me.”, which are also typical answers from patients with dementia. In my opinion as through my observation, she is showing slight signs of dementia, something that I’ve concluded after reading articles on the topic and attending a conference on dementia last month.
After the conference, I’ve tried to retrain and ‘reprogramme’ my brain, behaviour and attitude towards mum. My daily motto is now ‘Care, Love and Respect’ . With this in mind and equipped with a few tools, I attempt to imitate some of the changes that carers of old aged use when adapting their centre to a Montessori-based environment. As my mum is still able to read words and understand them, my first step is to help her to dress independently. So, I wrote a few basic steps on memo papers and stuck them on her dressing cupboard. Then, I placed her sarong, trousers and shirts on one section of the cupboard which she can see immediately at the level of her eyesight. As mum is able to recognise the different types of her clothes immediately, I don’t need to label them.
I introduced and reminded her to read the steps every time she enters the room, for what ever purpose. On the second night, she was able to dress independently from head to toe and ready to go out for dinner in a blink. This time she had to wait for my dad to get ready. On certain days, she comes out from the room without changing her shirt or trousers. And so, dad and I need to repetitively remind her.
I keep telling myself that this is a journey that our family must take together with mummy. We are not concern about the destination. Every episode of mistake, inaccuracy or forgetfulness has to be taken lightly and laughed out. We can’t afford to burn out for mum’s sake.
Once, mum read and followed the steps on the cupboard. As she arrived at the last step, mum jolted her head and exclaimed, “Hey not going anywhere yet, why take handbag?”. Yea mum, you were absolutely right! I gave out a hearty laugh at my silliness and mum’s rationality.
So remember, if your old folks are still able to read, make labels or instructions for them even when they are forgetful. This keeps them to focus and regain their independence and confidence. And you’ll never know what stories they might able to conjure from their, or your, silliness.