A report on the Park Re-plantation Project – From the teacher’sdesks
As planned the project was introduced to the children on the 20th of February 2017. The children were asked to make a special circle after their play time and the vision of the project was given. The groups and the specific tasks were discussed. A bowl of slips having numbers 1- 4 (9 each) was placed and children picked up a number each. They were thus sorted into 4 groups based on the number slip they had chosen. Group 1 handled printing and publication, Group 2 Plant procurement, Group 3 Accounting and Group 4 Marketing. Each of these groups had separate meetings were their roles and responsibilities were discussed.
On the 23rd of February, members of Group 1 and a couple of children from the accounting group were taken on a field trip to the School’s printing press. In the meantime children were working on creating posters and banners and designing ticket books for the project. At the press they saw and learnt the procedure of printing. They watched the operation of the printing machine.
The children from the accounting team gathered information on the cost involved on printing the ticket books and placed an order accordingly.
On the 28th of February the class as a whole went to the Kotturpuram Tree Park. They were taken on a tree walk by a group of volunteers from an NGO called Nizhal. This NGO was instrumental in transforming what was a dump yard before to what has become a tree park today along with the PWD department.
Group 2 children were given the special task of noting down information on what sort of tree would have to be purchased for our re-planting project at the Nageshwara Rao Park. This was information that they would use later during purchase of saplings.
All children were shown different types of tree and their uses and benefits were detailed by the volunteers. The children learnt a lot of information from the trip related to the trees and its uses. We also saw deer at the park, which re-instated among the children the need for having a green cover which benefited a wide variety of wild life. During this week the younger children in class were learning about the needs of the plant and parts of the plant which enhanced their learning.
On the 10th of March, the children from Group 4 and some from group 2 visited the Mylapore Times office. There they met the editor who discussed with them
1.) What is advertising and why is it important?
2.) What is the role of newspapers in advertising, especially the local ones?
3.) How are advertisements designed and in what way their role does their placement play?
This trip was a very educative one and our children who had been preparing hand bills and marketing their cause with parents and friends were able to answer a lot of question posted by the editor.
The last field trip to this project was to the Shakambari gardens, a tree store in Gandhi Nagar Adyar. The children in group 2 along with some in group 3 visited this place on the 13th of March and made their purchase of saplings for the planting which is around the corner.
The children from accounting group handled the transactions with the shop assistant. Children of group 2 were able to make their choices based on the information they gathered from their trip to the tree park. They purchased some, Neem, Almond and shrubs that they felt would be suitable for the park.
March 17th 2017
On the morning of March 17th 2017 the class was split into 8 groups and we proceeded to the park along with our parent volunteers. We planted all the 23 plants in the designated spots chosen earlier. It was a great experience for all the children.
March 24th 2017
Today, all elementary children walked to the park in order to take a look at the saplings we planted on 17th. The children were able to identify all the saplings. We felt satisfied to look at the plants flourishing.
We thank all parents who have been with us through the journey.
We believe this project will be a small step towards making our children more responsible towards nature and its needs.
Thanks and Regards,
2. What kind of education do I want for my child?
” The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity. He is both a hope and a promise for mankind”. Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Montessori developed a revolutionary method of early childhood education that continues to influence many school programmes around the world. She believed that a strong link existed between world peace and proper childhood education.
This nine months training programme that I attended at IMTC Chennai has made me aware of the various facets of the child’s continued development from birth, for which he tirelessly works with very little external help. It has been a reaffirmation of Dr. Montessori’s discoveries and her beliefs. It is convincing that this method encourages children to be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
Children are born with immense potential. The fact that he has constructed himself from an embryo to a viable human being at birth is ample proof for his creative and constructive capabilities.
There is a general unrest sweeping mankind, which is very disturbing. From various terrorist attacks to all the anti-social happenings in the society which we come across in media everyday forces us to think about the deviated behaviour exhibited by individuals involved in such acts. Why did they commit such heinous crimes? A peep into the personal lives of these individuals had sprung many surprises. Many a times, they are academically brilliant with degrees from prestigious global universities. So, that leads us to the next question: does education confine itself to merely earning degrees of academic interest? What is happening to the Humanity in Man? What use is that education which fails to sow and nurture the thoughts of love and compassion for fellow human beings?
Dr. Abdul Kalam summed it up beautifully: ” A combination of education with a value system would produce enlightened international citizens, who would then be able to work and citizens of planet earth to solve its problems together.”
Dr. Montessori has given us one such system that beautifully blends academic knowledge and values. The mixed age group is a miniature of the real world environment. The freedom in the classroom including the choice and flow of movement develops the sense of responsibility for one’s action and instils self discipline. Waiting for ones turn to work with the sensorial materials builds tolerance and patience in the child. We cannot teach this kind of morality to children of 3 years, but experience can, which is what the prepared environment gives him.
Offering children order and precision early on will leave them seeking it even when they grow up. This strive for perfection would groom them as sincere hardworking individuals, which is what our society needs.
In the rat race to excel in academics which is fiercely becoming competitive with marks and grades being the yardstick of a child’s calibre, the very charm of learning is lost. It is becoming a harrowing experience for many at some point or the other of their student life. The pressure to score well often forces them to achieve their targets by hook or crook, or in worst scenario take their life.
The Montessori environments are self-sustaining with older children taking care of the environment and being the role model for the younger ones, in perfect harmony, without a trace of envy or hatred advocating the philosophy of live and let live. This system of education, I feel, is like laying a strong foundation to build a strong durable house. The harsh weather may wither the paint or exteriors, but the foundation will ensure the walls don’t come crumbling down.
So let us all- the facilitators give back to our society a group of emotionally, socially and morally responsible individuals who will make us proud to be part of this world. The onus of making this a reality also rests on our shoulders, who, now being aware of all the technical, spiritual and intellectual training, should transform ourselves, giving the child his time, space, the necessary and sufficient help to bloom into worthy individuals. Post training, there has been a paradigm shift, He is the child- the future of mankind”.
Primary Montessori Adult at Sprouts
3. “How many times are you going to do that, again and again?”
REPETITION OF THE EXERCISE BY THE CHILD.
Perfection. We all strive for perfection in our work. Some of us are willing to go the extra mile to enhance our skills, accumulate the necessary knowledge, build up our willpower to focus and concentrate on achieving that desirable state of being, where we feel satisfied with what we do and when we believe that there can be no better way of doing it. To the adult, therefore, perfection is an end result of meticulous hard work, planning and sometimes prodigious skill. It is something that requires our determination, focus and time. To the child, however, this is a natural way of life.
They say practice makes a man perfect, which is quite true. Repetition of an activity does make one better at it, and we learn from our mistakes. However, a child seems to repeat activities several times over, not only to do it better, but also with a sense of purpose, and utmost concentration as his fingers move to the steady rhythm in his heart. However, at the end of the many repetitions of a seemingly mundane task, there appears a satisfied smile on that little face.
Toddlers and small children for instance, ask for the same songs to be sung again and again, the same bedtime story to be repeated every night, and they might bang a spoon on a bowl several times just to hear the same sound again and again, till you are exhausted! Some parents may notice that their child just loves to wash his/ her hands again and again, despite them being clean. Others may find their little ones rushing to the brooms and brushes, trying to sweep a sparkling clean floor. I think we can agree that there seems to be an internal force which drives them to do the same activity again and again.
This ‘Repetition of the Exercise’ by the child was something that the children showed to Dr. Maria Montessori at the first House of Children, ‘Casa Dei Bambini’, as she observed them with her loving, yet unprejudiced eyes. A three year old girl was seen repeating the activity ‘Cylinder Blocks’ (a series of wooden blocks with cylinders which could be placed in and out of cavities that are scientifically graded. The child becomes conscious of the differences in the three dimensions of solids.). Dr. Montessori was intrigued by how the child seemed to focus all her energies on doing her work, completely oblivious to her surroundings. This kind of behaviour also seemed to be quite frequently happening in the first House of Children.
Dr. Montessori wanted to experiment with this apparent insensibility to one’s environment further, and she requested the adult (teacher) there to sing and clap around with the other children. The little girl went on. Dr. Montessori then gently picked up child along with her armchair, and kept her on a table. The girl quickly gathered up the blocks in her skirt and continued the activity 42 times. At the end of this marathon, where there seemed to be no obvious difference in her speed or skill, she looked up, and smiled.
This instance of repetition is not in isolation, nor is it unbelievable. This event happened somewhere around 1907. Humanity may have changed in several ways. But the child remains the same, frozen in time, with the same tendencies provided by nature and God. I’d like to share a few instances where the child showed me this innate need for repetition that seemed quite mysterious and intriguing. The first being, coincidentally, a story of repetition with the aforesaid Cylinder Blocks.
A four year old girl, who had been in the traditional method of schooling, had just come along with her mother to the Montessori Training Course. The mother was busy in class, and the little one was unable to stay still for a long time, her hands itching towards the various materials displayed, which her mother seemed to be able to work with. She was finally presented with the Cylinder Blocks by an adult, and it was quite amazing to see her sit down determinedly on the mat, working quickly and deftly with the Cylinders. She was talking to herself, humming to herself as she did the activity. I stopped what I was doing, and watched her. I counted the number of times she worked with the block. It was 15 times! At the end of it, she stood up with the block, telling everyone around her, ‘I’m done!’ and with a satisfied nod she put it back on the shelf.
I was left pondering, ‘But weren’t you done the first time?’
At the Montessori house of children I work at now, it is not unusual to see a child work with a Sensorial or Exercise of Practical Life material 5- 20 times at a stretch. Be it a 3 year old pouring grains and water several times and rejoicing that there was no water on his oilcloth, or a 4 year old cutting carrots and sharing with me smaller and more similar looking pieces of them every day, repetition seems to be a rhythm in a Montessori environment, that has helped the new children settle down and the others hone their skills. Repetition here with the means of development don’t just help with developing perfection and concentration, but repeatedly working with materials and imbibing the purpose of the activity, brings about something amazing- Discoveries.
It could be a 3 year old working everyday with the Pink Tower who realises that the cubes which change in all three dimensions (small to big) seem to be just like the third Cylinder Block (Block C) which has cylinders ranging from small to big. She picks the cylinders one day and places the smallest of the cylinders near the smallest Pink Tower cube and the next cylinder near the second slightly bigger cube of the Tower and so on. It could even be a 4 and half year old working with the Constructive Triangles, who repeats the activity of joining the black lines on triangles to make different shapes several times, and discovers that the scalene, right-angled triangles used to make a rectangle are the same as those used to make an elongated parallelogram. He overlaps the two rectangles that he has thus made and proudly shows them to the adult.
Sure, discoveries are not only restricted to the Sensorial materials, a child can even discover that a big square-like napkin when folded twice along its medial becomes a smaller square! Repetition by the child is truly wondrous, has to be respected and more importantly, should be allowed to happen!
This is Man in the process of creating himself. Let him take his time. He needs no external motive or reward for his struggles. He repeats and seeks to strive towards perfection for himself. Let us merely fade into the background and allow him to work in an environment where he can choose to work for however long he wants, till that seeking, striving, determined mind is satisfied. Because, he is capable of declaring to all around him when he is satisfied-
Primary Montessori Adult at Sprouts