Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Twice is Nice

This photo makes me laugh.  One of the children decided to do cloth washing, which is a big job.  She wasn't doing just little cloths and doilies, but all our laundry, including hand towels and tablecloths.  In another area of the room, I was folding laundry with a different child.  As we put our folded towels into piles he kept saying, "Now I'll bring these to the library," which I assumed was the drawer and the shelves where the cloths belong.  However, he was bringing them to the cloth washer, who then proceeded to wash all the clean laundry!  Note my assistant's reaction.  All in a day's work!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Learning To Move Again

Our school and an assisted-living community have a long-standing relationship.  At our orientation, the wonderful activities director talks about the elders and the changes they may be going through.  The children try a walker, a wheelchair, and some funny glasses to approximate what an elder may be experiencing.  They learn to be quite respectful and empathetic to their new friends.  Here is a really short video:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Waiting for Montessori

This trailer for Waiting for Superman made me cry.  Another good movie on reforming education.  Another opportunity for Montessori education to take the lead.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

The children are always drawn to beauty.  Maria Montessori observed this years ago but it still feels like a revelation each time I see it in practice.  Sometimes I've wondered if I'm too concerned with each little detail but when I see the children notice a lovely button, a carefully painted leaf, or a graceful pattern on an apron, I'm glad I took the time to beautify the environment.  The children also show loving care to a healthy green plant, or a flower.  My wonderful assistant provided the flowers that one girl is arranging and the other is "pounding."  Using a small floral craft hammer she imprints the flower onto a piece of muslin.  It is then suitable for framing, or making a small pillow or pincushion.  Montessori writes, "The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself."  In these children what I see revealed is diligence, cooperation, artistry, and so much more.  How beautiful is the mind of the child!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mature Enough

Current Issue

There is new brain research using magnetic resonance imaging that can predict a person's maturity.  The possible uses?  Well, if you could identify an immature portion of the brain, you could use techniques that help that part of the brain mature.  Ultimately, the research could provide imaging useful to treating autism and other brain disorders at a young age.  So far, the research begins at age seven but is continuing.  You can read the whole article in the current issue of Science magazine, however, it is a bit dense:  

Group functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) studies have documented reliable changes in human functional brain maturity over development. Here we show that support vector machine-based multivariate pattern analysis extracts sufficient information from fcMRI data to make accurate predictions about individuals’ brain maturity across development. The use of only 5 minutes of resting-state fcMRI data from 238 scans of typically developing volunteers (ages 7 to 30 years) allowed prediction of individual brain maturity as a functional connectivity maturation index. The resultant functional maturation curve accounted for 55% of the sample variance and followed a nonlinear asymptotic growth curve shape. The greatest relative contribution to predicting individual brain maturity was made by the weakening of short-range functional connections between the adult brain’s major functional networks (September 10, 2010).  Yikes (that is my comment). 

This link provides the Businessweek analysis of the information (a little more my speed):  The down side?  Do you really want to know the maturity level of your partner?  Yourself?  I find the neuroscience that is emerging amazing.  But, as Maria Montessori's approach  has proven, an astute observer is worth over one hundred years of brain imaging.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Race to Nowhere?

I don't know a lot about the movie "Race to Nowhere" but it has piqued my attention.  Someone in the trailer asserts, "We need to redefine what success means for our kids."  I've long thought that the educational system in the USA needs a complete overhaul, and I don't mean more testing.  Of course, I believe Montessori is the best alternative route for us to follow.  If we need creative,collaborative, resilient, motivated problem-solvers to ensure our economic future, look no further than Montessori graduates.  We can't raise a generation of children afraid to make a mistake.  Mistakes take us to the next level, which is sometimes a level we couldn't earlier even envision.  Albert Einstein famously said, "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  Take a look at this trailer and see what you think.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Celebration of Music

A Blessing of Music

I am a music lover.  I study voice, play the piano and play the guitar (at school only for the guitar part!).  I have spent years doing musical theater and I have also dabbled in strings.  Now, I found the perfect book to explain the beauty of music to the children.  The Blessing of Music by Welleran Poltarnees has absolutely stunning reproductions of art that capture the feeling of music.  One line reads, "It [music] is a language for feelings that have no other expression. . . "  Another line reads, "[Music] brings us into closer harmony with the universe, and with our deepest selves."  The artists range from Klimt to Larsson to Degas, among others.  The art ranges from the late 19th century to the early 20th.  Not only does the book capture the blessing of music in words, it does so in illustration as well. I am so excited to find this book that I had to share it with you!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Farm

I did a bit of work on the farm this fall.  A colleague offered up the short barn-board table.  I made a sitting pillow, a label holder for the nouns, and one for the descriptive phrases.  You can't see it well in the photo but the larger holder has a rick-rack embellishment--the first time I ever made that work!  I used a large covered button to enhance the small holder, centering the farm.  The pieces (animals, trees, farmers, etc.) reside in a coordinating fabric-covered box.  While my barn is well-worn, (on its tenth year!) I'm fond of it. I hope these embellishments add to an already favorite activity.