June 24, 2010

The Gobbi Mobile

I have just finished making this Gobbi Mobile for a friend of mine who gave birth to a little girl. I have made the mobile a few times out of various materials with varying levels of success. I am really pleased with this effort and wanted to share. I have been thinking of making Montessori Infant Materials for sale and I'm wondering whether anyone out there would be interested in buying this sort of thing? This mobile is made from pine (natural, unvarnished, unstained), satin ribbon, polystyrene balls, organic cotton for the hanging thread and is glued with a non-toxic glue. I have no idea what I would charge for something like this - it took about 7 hours to make (the wrapping of the balls takes forever!)
I am now making and selling these mobiles (and other Montessori 0-3 equipment) at my new blog http://www.montessorihomes.blogspot.com/
check it out!

June 9, 2010

Freedom and Choice - a Fundamental Concept

I have been discussing the importance of Freedom and Choice with a friend of mine who is teaching in a Montessori School (6 to 9 room). We were digging up some quotes about the topic which supported our ideas about why freedom and the ability to choose were so integral to the Montessori environment. I thought to include them below as food for thought...

About the child and his choices:

If the object meets the inner needs of the child and is something that will satisfy them, it rouses the child to prolonged activity. He masters it and uses it over and over again - The Discovery of the Child - Maria Montessori

We know very well not only that knowledge gained through personal exploration and spontaneous effort is remembered much better but that the method acquired in the course of such learning can be useful for the rest of one's life - Raising Curious Creative Confident Kids - Rebeca Wild (Montessori is NOT about what we learn, but about HOW we learn it. Knowledge is not static, it is continually changing and evolving and it was recognised by MM that if we can help children to learn how to learn, then the highest level of independence will have been achieved, as they will never be dependent on adults or teachers for progress.)

The objects are a help to the child himself. He chooses what he wants for his own use, and works with it according to his own needs, tendencies and special interests. In this way the objects become a means of growth - The Discovery of the Child - Maria Montessori

I would suggest that all this not be taught to every child, but only to those who have shown a special interest in it either by their frequent choice of the material or their questions - The Discovery of the Child - Maria Montessori (this forms the argument for allowing the choice of the child to PRECEDE the lesson from the adult)

Montessori education is designed to awaken interest and to allow children to pursue learning about issues that personally interest them. This is necessary to a system that is beased on intrinsic motivation - Montessori the Science Behind the Genius - Angeline Stoll Lillard

Only the material which really interests a child and which he will freely choose and regularly employ is suitable for a child's education - The Discovery of the Child - Maria Montessori

Each and every child, based on its own individual needs, will make its own choice out of all the stimuli offered for learning. We know how deep the priority of these inner needs is and that a true equilibrium wth the environment is possible only when we allow the child to establish this balance - Raising Curious Creative Confident Kids - Rebeca Wild

A child who shows a desire to work and to learn should be left free to do so even of the work is outside the regular program - The Discovery of the Child - Maria Montessori

If their spirit is not touched, they may compy with our demands for work, but the psychological value of their work will be restricted to a more or less mechanical learning of technique - Education for Human Development - Mario Montessori Jr

The child tends to gravitate towards the types of stimulation they need at different stages of development. If we encourage children to make choices from a selected variety of available challenges, we are no doubt following the wisest course - Endangered Minds - Jane Healy

Children who have choices will spontaneously engage with that which they needs to further their development - Montessori the Science Behind the Genius - Angeline Stoll Lillard

The child has the power to teach himself - The Absorbent Mind - Maria Montessori

He must become independent of will, by using in freedom his own power of choice - The Absorbent Mind - Maria Montessori
For the adult:

Inner forces affect his choices, and if someone usurps the function of this guide, the child is prevented from developing either his will or his concentration - The Absorbent Mind - Maria Montessori 

Only through the art of being able to perceive the spontaneous activity of a child is the teacher in a position to assess the interests and the stage of development of children - Raising Curious Creative Confident Kids - Rebeca Wild

For the most part, the short and simple lesson should consist of an explanation of the object and of the use which the child can make of it. The teacher will note whether or not the child is interested in the object, how he shows his interest, how long he is interested in it and she will take care not to force a child's interest in what she is offering - The Discovery of the Child - Maria Montessori

We always keep in mind that the children's own activity and their experiences come before any information that can be given by the teacher - Raising Curious Creative Confident Kids - Rebeca Wild

The principal agent is the object itself and not the instruction given by the teacher. It is the child who uses the objects; it is the child who is active and not the teacher - The Discovery of the Child - Maria Montessori

One might not anticipate what particular aspect of a lesson will capture the imagination of any particular child and might lead to further explorations that will link to new parts of the curriculum - Montessori the Science Behind the Genius - Angeline Stoll Lillard (this is a strong argument against having a pre-prepared schedule of lessons and a lock-step progression through the curriculum as it takes away the spontaneity and individuality of each child's journey through the curriculum according to his interests and personal links, in short it disregards the essence of the structure of the child's mind and the framework of reference that is unique to him and essential for deep understanding and internalisation)

There is only one basis for observation: the children must be free to express themselves and thus reveal those needs and attitudes which would otherwise remain hidden or repressed in an environment that did not permit them to act spontaneously - The Discovery of the Child - Maria Montessori

The closest we can come to finding out what children really know is to watch what they do when they are free to do what interests them most - How Children Fail - John Holt

If we and not the children choose the task, then they think about us instead of the task - How Children Fail - John Holt

Montessori environments are prepared to facilitate child choice and control, through order - Montessori the Science Behind the Genius - Angeline Stoll Lillard (this is role of the adult: to prepare an ordered environment in which the child is free to teach himself. It is not the place of the adult to control the child. We can influence the child's self-control and choices, by controlling the environment. That is the limit of our influence.)