Within the set-up of a secondary classroom, children age 11, 12, 13 the use of a calculator should be seen as the support to a full understanding of the “concept” at hand. By times, the focus should not be held on finding the answer within the different operations +, – ,x and / .
It is the isolation of the difficulty that makes the difference. The difficulty is what the focus needs to be addressed on.
It is important to make clear what the concept is, that is to be learned. If the children do work on percentages; that should be the focus .
Yet if he answer to the problem is more important than the way of operation, why not let them use a calculator?
That will lead to less frustration in their process to understand the process of operation, the way of conducting the problem.
Ideally the children do know their facts, yet, as we all know, that’s the ideal scenario and that is never the case, because all children are different.
To use a calculator is, hence, unconscious repetition of these facts. That allows the child to fully focus on the “concept” that is introduced.
Tools are made to support one’s weakness, to allow full participation during the activity.
The major responsibilities I have to ensure the integrity of the adolescent community that I will be teaching in. Additionally, I will state my major concerns regarding this endeavour.
Maria Montessori said: “We must make it possible for the individual to be free and independent. The key to this complex problem is to furnish means for development of the free personality that have to do with the environment as well. The environment must promote not only the freedom of the individual, but also the formation of a society” (Montessori, The Education of the Individual, 2015. p. 18)
My major contribution to the adolescent community will be based on respecting their sensitive periods of dignity, justice and social and economic independence. The environment will be prepared in the right way to meet their needs. They shall have the opportunity to develop their sensitive periods along their personal growth. I will support this growth, being an additional material, they need to construct themselves. As a guide in their environment, Personal contact is extremely important and that I will be teaching how to use their energy to improve them, the environment, so that they realize that the cornerstone of education is the development of the human personality. Personality grows best in the right environment. It is the environment that will that fosters independence. It is all about the independence that will be offered to them. Within the environment they become socially independent, reach a sense of collaboration and dignity. I will provide them the opportunity to develop their dignity in becoming economical independent. They will learn to tke care of them selves in multiple manners, take care of the others, being respectful, helpful, caring and supportive. With this comes the respectability of the environment. Real work, adult work is offered to them. They will do work that is important and adds to the environment. They will start to produce and create. What gives them the chance to do the exchange, earn money to re-invest I projects that they have. These study and work projects will help them in their development in becoming an adult. They will learn how to actively contribute to their, our society, becoming an positive, self-sufficient, responsible, caring and respectful adult.
I want to make sure to provide the necessary opportunities for the adolescents in the environment. My role as the adult has a well defined position. For that I want to quote Maria Montessori, who says it all in one paragraph: “In going about his dedicated labours on behalf of the child, the adult must realize above all else that his task concerns a revelation of the child’s soul. […] This work must have a twofold objective: constructing a suitable environment and bringing about a new attitude toward children on the part of adults.” (Education and Peace, Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company, p.72). I would like to construct a society of trust, not a society of fear. A community based upon dignity, integrity and joy with a vision of a greater community.
My ajorconcerns are to establish the ownership that is needed in oder strt the community, mainytain and cherish it. I am also concerned that the children will appreciate the investment I make to establish a harmonious self-functioning community.
To conclude I like to quote again Maria Motessori: “Maria Montessori said “So the first thing his education demands is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature. This does not mean just to amuse him and let him do as he likes. But it does mean that we have to adjust our minds to doing a work of collaboration with nature, to being obedient to one of her laws, the law which decrees that development comes from environmental experience.”, (The Absorbent Mind).
Education in Relation to Psychic Development
If there will be a divorce between hands and the head, then there will be the head that suffers.”.
You have to create a culture that they get a value (the adolescents).
Animal is a body, in contrast man has a spirit within the body (only to produce the spirit). Valarisation is beginning aware of one`s capabilities, assets as well as weakness. This awareness comes from within and is not what someone ascribes you. It is due to growth through ones own work.
Mario Montessori said about the Human Tendencies:
“So you see, what was the difference between animal and man? The animal was a body with just that small amount of ‘Will’, that was sufficient to serve the body. In contrast, Man had a puny body – but a great spirit. One might express the essential difference between Man and animal by saying that Man has a ‘Will’, which has a body at its disposal, whilst the animals have a body, which had a ‘Instinct’ at their disposal.
In man the spirit was the important part. The body was there only to produce the instrument this spirit might from time to time require. In man it was the spirit that guided, not the body. And that spirit had a life and needs of its own”.
What is the difference between animal and men, animal has the sufficient ‘Instinct’ to survive. Men has the ‘Will’ to go beyond simple survival. Humans have developed a greater understanding. One important aspect is ‘valorisation’.
J.H. “Valorisation is beginning to become aware of one’s capabilities, assets as well as weaknesses. This awareness comes from within and is not what someone ascribes you. It is due to growth through one’s own work, a succession of achieving different levels of independence in correspondingly suitable environments. It is heading toward maturity and coordination of all one’s potentialities:
To think of education in light of valorisation of the personality, by education will then be meant the making it possible for personality to develop as a real asset in human society and each individual’s own awareness of that”.
There is an example that can be stressed.
The big question is, is there anything that fits all at the same time?
Doctors don’t treat all the patients at the same time either. We know, that all the diseases are either different, have a different degree of severances and hence need to be handled differently, looked upon from different angles.
That is the same with all the children. Too many teachers see the concept of teaching as being strictly about subject matter, not about knowing who adolescents are, how they learn, what they want to learn, and how they feel.
Treating everyone alike differently. Are there any situations in life where “one size fits all”.
The spirit is also behind the work. When it has achieved, it satisfied by your needs, then you get spirit. This the students experience of a long time.
The freedom to go to your own work, is the most important thing to your child
. No one can teach something like reading, walking, this only the child can learn by himself. J
Since we look at the psyche as a motor to develop soul, mind and spirit. It should be considered that “Psychic development should be the highest purpose of education.
However, today in a push for a standardized, content-driven curriculum there is little room for activities that are not directly related to the acquisition of content knowledge.
Spending time in school on the psychic development often comes into direct conflict with content mastery”. That is where Cosmic Education has an impact in Montessori education.
Cosmic education is the continuation of the development of the ‘Will’. Children are brought from the whole to the detail. Within they are exposed to the outside and brought to putting themselves into the ‘shoes of someone else’. This continues to support and develop their mind, their global understanding of their environment that now enlarges itself to the world around them. This is becoming to be an aid to do it right. This strengthens their decision making towards the situations and answers that need to be resolved.
Once the know the truth we need to help to like the truth
They don’t want to know ‘How am I good’. They want to know ‘How good amI ’. One can see that “Many schools have developed comprehensive approaches to teaching character strengths, and in many schools teachers are talking to their students more than ever about character and morality. There has unfortunately been a shift away from moral education to an education in decision making in which teachers and students engage in open-ended discussions of moral dilemmas. It is being assumed that students can learn to make good moral decisions without bothering to acquire moral habits or strength of character. This doesn’t work. You can’t teach morality the way you teach math. Students can’t learn about the quadratic formula without ever mentioning it. However, for example, students can learn the virtue of self-control without ever talking about it. Psychic development is more a product of the child’s environment. This is certainly true in early childhood. We have learned much about the adverse environments have on children’s early development. This is equally true for the adolescent”. Jenny Höglund said: “The independence of being able to think and know for oneself is important as well independence when it comes to morality. We want the children to establish a conscience and thus be able to evaluate behaviour from a moral or ethical point of view. To help the children achieve moral independence is not to impose a set of principles upon them, but to help them develop their powers of reflection. The children need to be informed about the possibilities and options so they can think for themselves and be aware of their attitudes and orientation in life”. . Learning to know the truth. Learning to love the truth. Learning to live the truth.Ability to control oneself is intimately related to moral action. At times we must take a particular action in order to achieve some (moral) end. At other times we must be able to inhibit certain actions”.
“The basic activities of human social organisation are the developmental lessons that Maria Montessori prescribes for the adolescent ‘the ‘social newborn’ whose developmental task is to enter adulthood, and in doing so, inherit the best of human accomplishment and civilization and move it forward. They are complex social beings in the making, and they actively pursue an understanding of social organisation”1. This brings us back to the consideration of the importance of the prepared environment. This essential term is followed through during all the planes of development and has a fundamental importance in Montessori education. It is its backbone and sets the guidelines, supports the aims and gives inspirations and ideas. The care of the environment using grace and courtesy is helping the children throughout all of these four planes, to create a sense of ownership what supports their development of independence and the will to study and work. We talk about the independence of being able to think and know for oneself. The ability to think, and develop social independence, is important when it comes to morality. We want the children to establish a conscience and thus be able to evaluate behaviour from a moral or ethical point of view. To help the children achieve moral independence one should not impose a set of principles upon them, but to help them develop their powers of reflection. The children need to be informed about the possibilities and options so they can think for themselves and be aware of their attitudes and orientation in life”2. Independence is the result of a well laid out and structured Prepared Environment, what leads to developing social organisation. Practical life skills and order are underlined, introducing and giving the work that the children love to do, giving them a sense of belonging. Belonging leads to ownership, what leads to taking care of your environment. The result is work. Work is a human tendency supporting self-construction and needs to be purposeful. “Among the revelations the child has brought us, there is one of fundamental importance, the phenomenon of normalization through work. Thousands and thousands of experiences among children of every race enable us to state that this phenomenon is the most certain datum verified in psychology or education. It is certain that the child’s attitude towards work represents a vital instinct; for without work his personality cannot organize itself and deviates from the normal lines of its construction. Man builds himself through working. Nothing can take the place of work, neither physical well-being nor affection, and on the other hand, deviations cannot be corrected by either punishment or example. […] The child’s instinct confirms the fact that work is an inherent tendency in human nature; it is the characteristic instinct of the human race.”3. Throughout the week, it was interesting to see and live the life of an adolescent. The responsibilities that have had been set upon us, showed in what way social organization is a necessity to have a smooth and well-functioning society. If the opportunity to be independent is given, physically and mentally, one has the chance to built and create one’s own personality. The environment will allow and apply your freedom of choice. That helps you to become a decision maker. This had to be applied in organizing the daily routines during the week. Personality growth is omni-present. The adolescent has the opportunity to meet his sensitive periods of morality, dignity, social and economical independence. They have the opportunity to satisfy them on their own terms. Important is that the rules of the society, the environment and personal space are respected. It is within the social organization that these ‘rules’ are set up and agreed on by all the members of the group. One needs to have a healthy understanding of adaptability. It does not mean that one needs to follow the given, but to show, that no matter what circumstances oneself or the group is in, the ways of how to balance out the equation needs to be found for that the society is happy and harmonious. Maria Montessori said: People that are not adapted to their environment are not superior people. Adaptation to the environment is something positive, a starting point from which a person can go a long way. Adaptation to the environment is the first necessity”.4. One needs to also cherish that next to the phenomena of the Absorbent Mind is a special power of the young child. This power is called the power of adaptation. This power is a process whereby the young child uses the environment to develop. This allows the child to become part of the environment and starts to own it. The young child absorbs the culture of her time and place, taking in the spirit, the customs, the ambitions and attitudes of a society by simply living in that society. This is a gift given to the child. This is a gift that the child will carry along through all the planes of development. So, reaching the third plane, the child has had a long period of practicing adaptation and hence has developed a strong capability for adaptability. That is essential for the adolescent. Being able to adapt, all doors are open. Throughout the week, the adolescent showed a natural adaptation to the group that has invaded their environment. Together, a general momentum of adaptation has happened. Adults and adolescents, finding their way to live together. One needs to keep in mind that the adolescent enters his phase of puberty where adaptability can be harder. That can cause some turmoil in the adolescent’s acceptability. Maria Montessori states therefore that the study and work with the hand can offer the right distraction, the environment with the right amount of occupations is the right solution. “From the psychological viewpoint also, this is a critical age. There are doubts and hesitations, violent emotions, discouragement and an unexpected decrease of intellectual capacity. The difficulty to study with concentration is not due to a lack of willingness but is really a psychological characteristic of the age…The chief symptom of adolescence is a state of expectation, a tendency towards creative work and a need for the strengthening of self-confidence”5. A helpful and necessary technique is observation. This allows the guide to investigate and decipher the current state of being of the child. Ways of behaviour, deviations and misunderstandings can be taken care of with this approach. The guide can use different ways to communicate, through personal meetings, group sessions or journal writing. Observation is laying the basis of many factors, from academical difficulties to personal challenges. “The observation of the way in which the children pass from the first disordered movements to those which are spontaneous and ordered – thus is the book of the teacher, this is the book which must inspire ones actions6. Throughout observing, The guide has to put aside adjectives like omnipotence, power, authority, pride and vanity. Under these circumstances the guide can keep the ability to observe and to keep an open mind. This means that the guide has to be able to accept to be proved to be wrong. An idea, a conviction or belief, can now and then be proved to be wrong. Then, the adult, the teacher shall take it for granted and see how, where and eventually when, something went ‘wrong’. It is only with fresh and clear minds that children may be observed as they truly are. This helps the adult, the teacher to respond to the real needs of children rather than to preconceived ideas. The adult should be able to consciously be ready to change character to be able to serve the child in the appropriate way. When the adult allows to get trained in the technique of observation, there will come a natural help in place; “…the adult feels interest and such interest is the motive power which creates the spirit of the scientist”. In addition to having the precision of a scientist, the teacher should also possess the spiritual qualities of a saint. “These qualities together bring joy and serenity which characterize the next teacher. When she feels herself, a flame with interest, ‘seeing’ the spiritual phenomena of the child, and experiences a serene joy and an insatiable eagerness in observing them, then she will know that she is “initiated”. Then she will begin to become a “teacher”7. The teacher, the guide is the representation of the development that Montessori refers to as ‘Supernature’. As guide one has the responsibility to present to the children the evolution of the i.e. machinery and how this has changed the fulfilment and satisfaction of the fundamental needs. Humanity has always had the urge to make life better and easier. ‘Supernature’ is representing that. Animals have the ability to produce its food directly. Contemporary man doesn’t live with nature but with ‘supernature’ and Maria Montessori says: “The education that will lead the way to a new humanity kind has one end alone: leading the individual and society to a higher stage of development. This concept involves many factors and may seem obscure, but it becomes clearer if we realize that mankind has to fulfil a collective mission on earth, a mission involving all of humanity and therefore each and every human”8. Going through the first two planes, the child is prepared to inherit this responsibility. They are given the tools to start their journey through the third plane of development. Social responsibility, the social organisation with its different elements are becoming a structured guideline that can and should be used to educate the children. Practical consideration for social organisation starts again with the prepared environment. This is provided with the right set up of the physical environment what represents the support for all the occupations that are on the planning for the adolescent community. Practical headlines are ‘Residence for young people’, ‘Farm’, ‘Store’, ‘Guesthouse’, ‘Museum of Machinery’, organized and maintained by the adolescent with the support and the guides. To focus on their Social and economical independence, this is the ideal scenario for the adolescent to apply and practise the coming adult hood. They are introduced to production and exchange, what combines two essential factors that sits within the fundamental needs. With production they learn to support themselves on creating food, shelter and protection what leads them to exchange for further growth by earning money or exchanging goods, to meet the needs that they have. All this sits within the social organisation. They become members of this society, understanding the necessities of themselves, the others and the environment. This is key for humanity to evolve.
Maria Montessori said: “I would like to pose a question: does not man also have a cosmic mission to fulfil on earth? Is it conceivable that this being who has such great intelligence, which is the worker par excellence, has no part to play in he labour of the cosmos9?
This was an exciting event and an honour to Kick-Off the 2nd Education Summit 2019 in Brussels. I have met interesting peoiple, fellow teachers and Ministers from all over Europe. Inspiring conversations and exchange of thoughts.
Here is some ‘food for thought’ . My Key Note speech. A snippet of my life with some educational insights. 🙂 I will add it as pdf as well in case you would like to print it out.
Click here: Speech Christoph Schiebold
My name is Christoph Schiebold, I work as a teacher at the international Montessori School in Brussels. I am executing this profession since 16 years.
I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1999, since then I do live with this open and shut, helpless case. But helpless, I never accepted and changed my perspective upon this matter. I made it part of me, I incorporated it in my daily life, taking one step at a time.
To start to accept is the hardest. To start to live with the unknown, the unknown that you can’t control, is nerve wrecking, … It is all about those nerves. I was sad when I got the diagnosis, sad and lost. I was only 20 years old at that time. I did not know what this is all about. At the beginning, for still a while, I was able to walk as anyone else yet slowly it became more difficult and I felt that ‘here, something is changing’.
After around 5 years after the diagnosis, I bought my first cane. It became helpful and a necessity. For some years, actually many years, That was me. Over time, I added braces to support my feet, so now I have a cane and braces on my feet. That also, became me.
At that time, my representations, pictures made by my students, were, me, two legs, no cane. After, it became, two legs and a cane.
Now I am drawn in my chair.
Since three years now, I decided to use a wheelchair, outside to commute and also in my classroom, because walking, even though I have a cane and braces, became harder and harder, so now, four wheels it is. And that became me.
Now I have it all, Cane, braces and my ride, but I don’t complain, yet I do admit, that it is hard by times.
I have secondary progressive Multiple Sclerosis, the process is slower, yet consistent, but that became good news.
I started to look at all the positive aspects that I found, understood and learnt throughout the years. I focused on all the things that I actually CAN DO and not on the one’s that I CAN´T DO, and I realised that there are many!!
All this did not hinder me to have two fantastic children, a beautiful wife and a profession that I like.
Nevertheless, at the beginning, when I got the diagnosis, I did not know, in what way I will be able to have a career at all and do what everyone else does. This was one of the unknowns and I was scared and lost. Where do I go and where will I end up?
That’s quite heavy when you are 20 years old and you are ready to start your life, be ambitious and ready to conquer. You have the impression that something pressed the slow-motion button, everything loses a sense and your life changes. What now?
Time is what I needed, time is what I got and time is what I took and I always had promised to myself, that that additional ‘cargo’ will not take over my life, become the ruler of my existence.
It is my legs that do become gradually weaker. It is a life-long journey, with ups and downs, moments of profound self-questioning and despair. Answers, I do not have, but the will to continue and don’t give up, I do. So I continued as normal as it can be.
It is the way one approaches the challenge. It is good to tell oneself, that this one does not take over the other one, no matter how hard it is.
It is the same approach in teaching! The difficult shall never take over and rule the strength! It is the focus on the strong side, the strength’s that build confidence and self-esteem.
If one continuously only points out the weaknesses, motivation goes away. One needs to use the STRENGTH, which will then support and help to tackle the weakness.
You might think, yes, makes sense, but I am talking about one’s personal weakness, because not all have the same strength nor the same weakness.
Time is an essential factor in that approach. I always give the example of you, the adult, taking an airplane.
You know at what time it will leave, so you leave the house at an appropriate time to do check in, if not done online, get through customs etc. Let’s say you leave at 11.00 a.m. We know, that to be stress free, you need to be at the airport 2 hours earlier (domestic flight). If not being late because of other factors, that is ideal.
You take the time you need, to have all sorted and set, to have a smooth and pleasant, stress free flight (of course there are always unforeseen surprises, but even that you count in and are , some sort, prepared for).
So you take your time, no questions asked. Why do we not do that with our children? Why do we frame them all under the same parameters? We need to start to give the needed and relevant time to our children too!
They are dependent on us, for having and receiving the time they need to develop and learn, obtain the help and protection, to have a smooth and pleasant ride during their educational travels until they have reached the stage of development, where reasoning and understanding of one’s own thinking will allow them to meet the expectations. Expectations they are confronted with during their life and learning.
Their journey needs to be prepared in many aspects within their development, emotionally and physically. Each child is different, each child develops differently.
Our aim should be to create self-confident and emotionally strong children, hence future responsible adults.
Therefore, a child needs to develop and unfold to her and his own pace, so the right amount of time needs to be given and provided.
That brings you back again to the factor TIME.
Time leads to individualized education, time gives room for discovery. Discovery of oneself, the environment, hence the world, what brings them to the important facts and figures, also known as academics. It is these academics that often are the hurdle in a child’s life. As mentioned before, every child is different and hence the approach needs ideally to be adapted to the child’s developmental moment. For all, the main aim is to become an independent human being.
Teaching is all about reaching their personal perfection. Teachers can help to seek these opportunities to help them grow towards their personal perfection.
In its essence, every child is perfect. It is our responsibility to help the child to its utmost, to unfold this perfection, that is omnipresent within all of them.
Being confronted with this unfortunate health situation, has influenced my way of teaching. It has put many things in perspective. I did, as all the teachers are doing, take myself out of the equation. I do not need to be a part, that balances the equation out. I need to be the part that helps the children to create and balance their own equation, gives them their solutions, what helps them further and will please them and gives them the good feeling of achievement and hence pure fulfilment. The role of the teacher is to guide the child in its endeavours and learning journey.
I would like to finish with an anecdote that as happened not so long ago. It was one of those ‘rock-bottom’ moments that can happen. It was a hot day and my legs weren’t in the mood to adhere to my wants, getting up a step. I fell, all was good, and there I was, lying on the floor, being disappointed with my-self. At that moment, my son Tristan came around the corner, not commenting anything, handing me a key chain that lingers around our house, saying ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. This is how I live my life. There are so many wonderful and nice days to cherish, no need to give up.
And this is also how one needs to look at education. We should keep calm and carry on. Help our children to become creative decision makers, critical thinkers and most of all empathetic and caring global citizens. If we manage to help to do that, this world will stay a beautiful pearl within the universe, the perfection within the imperfection.
Thank you very much,