Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Men in Early Years? Meh

Anybody in the Early Years blogosphere, or really anyone paying attention knows that men remain practically non-existent in the field of childcare and education.  Looking after babies and young children is still considered to be and in many ways remains “women’s work.”  The flip-side of this sexist cliché is that us men who do care for and educate babies and young children are out of the ordinary, questionable and to many people’s eyes weirdos who are possible threats to their children.  I have my stories of not being allowed to change nappies, ignorant comments and weird looks from others but they’ve been repeated by others plenty of times and it is not the scope of this blog post.
The ignorance I have faced from some has hurt my feelings and at times made me question my internalised notions of worth “as a man.”  It’s ignorant and a symptom of sexist views of childrearing.  I truly appreciate the support from anybody who has made me feel welcome in this profession.  That said, I feel there is a disproportionate attention paid to what I and the other handful of men face versus than the regular, accepted everyday sexism face by a field of underpaid, over worked and disrespected women.  Never mind the mountains of evidence that shows the first five years, and more so the first two, in being crucial to our successful development as humans.  In most people’s eyes our field remains glorified babysitting, populated by women who can’t “get real jobs” and just want to “play with kids” all day.   Is simply getting more men into the field going to help fix these longstanding problems?

I also have to say that being a man has worked to my advantage as well.  Many forward-thinking settings are quick to hire and support the involvement of men.  Furthermore there are really more than enough men in the higher ends – research, owners of settings, policy wonks, educational leaders, consultants, etc – of the field, especially given how few of us are day-to-day, frontline educators.  I think this is partially the self-selecting process of the men who are drawn to this field despite it being an uncommon choice.  I also think sexism plays a large role in it, with men being generally expected to be the big thinkers, doers and bosses of many areas of life.
This is not a zero sum game.  I agree that our (collective) children should have a chance to develop relationships with a wide variety of people but it is hard for me to get too excited about getting more men involved in early years care and education at face value.  Of course, it would be good for children to see men engaged in caring roles but the more important questions to me are the when’s, what’s, and how’s of our work, not the who’s.  When, in our busy schedules do we get a chance to truly reflect on our practice as a team?  What informs our pedagogy and practice?  How do we relate to and interact with our children?  (And another note how much are we getting paid?).

Most people – of any gender – do not understand early childhood development or respect the deep intelligence or emotional lives of babies and young children.  Sadly, this includes many people, yes, mostly women, working in Early Years.  We do not need more men “to do the same old thing” in this anti-child culture.  We need people – of any gender – to transform our sector and the wider society.


David Cahn is an Early Years Teaching Assistant in Leeds, UK, who blogs at childcarebrofessional.wordpress.com  He is not a Montessorian, but rather a follower of the “Three G’s”: Magda Gerber, Alison Gopnik & Peter Gray.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: The Deep Well of Time


Dr. Michael Dorer starts his book The Deep Well of Time with the precious scene of his grandfather lying beside little Michael and telling a story of the little people. Dr. Dorer relates ‘There was no book. There were no pictures or videos. There was only his voice in the warm, dark bedroom, and his tales came to vivid life in my mind’. It was not until he became a Montessori elementary teacher (some 45 years ago!), that he rediscovered this great gift of storytelling and the power of creative imaginations.

The book is divided into two parts. The first half prepares us for the second by giving us the necessary theoretical background to delve into practice. It helps us tap into the spirit of storytelling, at the same time helping us develop various skills needed to engage our curious listeners.

The latter and major part of the book is filled with stories that are put together to awaken the children’s imaginations, curiosity and wonder. This section begins with the famous Five Great Lessons in the Montessori curriculum, and continues with stories on Language Arts, History, Mathematics, and ends with some more personal stories.

Imagine being able to communicate complex mathematical concepts like the Trinomial expansion, square root, or Pythagoras’ theorem to children in the form of simple, exciting and engaging stories! Or think about how powerful and accessible history could be when conveyed in ways that link the present to the past in the form of meaningful stories…

I share in Dr. Dorer’s belief in the transforming power of storytelling, and hope this book will empower you to engage with children in inspiring and creative ways. As the cover of the book says, “The children are waiting to listen…”

You can purchase 'The Deep Well of Time: The Transformative Power of Storytelling in the Classroom' from Montessori Services


This review was written by Sid Mohandas who is a Montessori practitioner from the UK. He received his Montessori training at Montessori Centre International (MCI), London. He later pursued qualifications in Early Childhood Education with London Metropolitan University, and currently is a Research Student at Institute of Education, UCL

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Engaging with multiple perspectives



I’m pretty sure most Montessori teachers, especially in preschools, have gotten down on their knees to get a child’s eye view of things. Our job is to make work available and inviting. Beautiful even. I, however, have wondered who the judge of what “beautiful and inviting” is. My idea of beautiful seems so different from so many of the people I work with. Who then will decide what is beautiful? 

We are taught so many things in Montessori about how thing “should” look, and rightly so I suppose. We want beauty, but not flashy. Quality and not quantity. The right pictures on the walls at the right height. But let me ask this.... do we usually ask our coworkers opinions about how things look or do we ask a child? I don’t pretend to know what is the right (or wrong) thing to do. It’s merely a question for reflection. 

Perceptions do not only depend on what is there in front of us. It is not solely dependent on sight. The word means how we comprehend a thing. I know that my comprehension, the way I perceive thing changes all the time. I see many things differently as someone in their 50’s, than I did when I was in my 20’s. Not to mention when I was 5!

That two people can perceive the same exact thing in two different ways is inevitable. Sure, we will agree on a lot, but it won’t be exactly the same. If we are interested in “getting it right” or achieving the most accurate understanding of something then the more perspectives we consider, the better. And, after all, in Montessori we are interested in presenting the multicultural aspects of the world; considering other cultural perspectives so to speak. We focus on how everything hangs together. To promote peace we need to respect the perception of others and share our own as well. We will want to expand how each of us perceive what we are investigating. The greater the perspective the greater the understanding. To do this we have to be open and honest. We have to be humble. 

If what we perceive is based on, not only our position in space and time, but our experiences as well, imagine that of a child. A new human, if you will, with so relatively few experiences. It’s easy then, to see how a child can be captivated by the simple things we generally take for granted. This is one of our tools in our toolbox. Connect this to the concept of sensitive periods and you have pure magic!

To best understand the child’s perspective, it is perhaps best that we understand how our own perception is developed. What influenced you to believe what you believe? Have you ever considered it? Was it your culture, your gender, the times you grew up (in which decade)? So many factors influence how we perceive things that I guess we can’t know them all. When we take a closer look at ourselves, we begin to grasp that there is no one correct way to see things. Nor is there in fact any way that is completely incorrect either. This is very useful to remember when we communicate with parents as well. I know many of us do this already. We can call it empathy. Similar concepts yet different. Perspectives also apply when observing nonliving things. 

I learned long ago that I could always be wrong. Even things you are 100% certain of, there is a chance that your conclusion is based on something everyone got wrong. For example, after it was finally proven that the Earth orbited around the sun and not the opposite, it still took 150 years for this to be accepted by the masses! So the more open we are, in heart and mind, the more perspectives we can grasp and the greater our understanding.

Everyone has his or her own unique perspective and no one perspective is totally correct or incorrect. If we grasp this, we will be open to other’s perspective and increase our own understanding of what we wish to learn about or act upon. If we want to be better guides, peace workers or human beings we will benefit greatly by doing our best to look at as many perspectives as we can, using what we can and letting be that which we can not, so that our actions rise from the greatest clarity we can obtain at the time. Peace.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

TMM Spotlight: Michael Dorer


Q: Thanks for joining us, Michael. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
Thank you so much for having me, Sid. My background at this time is almost entirely in the Montessori field. I started in Montessori in 1969, almost too many years ago to count. At that time, I had no intention of working with children or teaching. My mother had been a teacher, and I did not want to follow in her footsteps. But here I am, almost 50 years later – a dedicated Montessorian. Of course I am interested in children, but in a larger sense, I am interested in humanity - what makes
us tick, what inspires us, and how we can make our life on earth meaningful.  I believe that my work in Montessori with young people addresses that very set of interests.
I dream of an enlightened world in which all children can receive a decent education and look forward to a fulfilling, productive life. Right now, something like 30 million children worldwide will never attend school - of any sort. Over 900 million people are illiterate. About one billion children are living in severe poverty around the world. They will never have a chance to attend a Montessori school. So, my dream is that they at least have access to some kind of appropriate and adequate schools. Sure, I would like those schools to be progressive, ideally inspired by Montessori. However any sort of proper educational opportunity is a step up, and a vital one.
You know, Sid, faced with these shocking numbers, I believe that we Montessorians need to set aside our internal disputes and differences. Instead let’s focus on children, even if the method or approach is not quite “pure.” More locally in the USA, the UK, Canada, the Nordic countries, and other first and second world countries, I dream of every child being able to attend a real Montessori school, staffed by kind, generous, caring and learned guides. Public and charter Montessori schools are advancing that dream. Q: Can you share with us what brought you into this field of working with young children?
That is an interesting question, Sid. One fine autumn day in 1969, I saw a church in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA) with a sign that read, “Montessori and Day Care”. At that time, I had no idea what those words meant. I went inside and was treated to a most remarkable sight. A room full of small children all deeply engaged in some kind of focused play. A very nice Dutch woman introduced herself as the teacher and loaned me a book to read. It was The Montessori Method.  
I was captivated and fascinated, especially by Montessori’s references to peace. I was very involved in activities for peace, but had never thought of peace in connection with children. I kept reading, especially looking for references to peace. When I found those, I was inspired to continue.
That school had an opening for an assistant, and I was hired. Having never been around children I was intrigued. The following spring a Montessori training program was organized in Minnesota, and I was offered a partial scholarship.
Excitedly, I accepted, still never intending to stay with it for long. It did not seem to be the proper work for a man.
Nonetheless, four different Montessori trainings later, I am still immersed in Montessori, still involved in peace through children, still fascinated and grateful for all that it has brought me.
Maybe, upon reflection, that random sighting of a Montessori program in a church was no accident. I feel like somehow, Montessori called to me.
Q: What was your experience when you first started off as a male practitioner? Did you face any prejudice? How do you think the society’s attitude towards men has changed over time? I faced a lot of prejudice when I entered the field. In my first training, there were only two men. The other one left the field very quickly.
Other trainees frequently questioned me about my motives. How could I make a living without a spouse to support me by doing “real work?” Who would hire me? How could parents trust me, and why should they? Most disturbing in those first years were the questions and comments that suggested that I was possibly some sort of pedophile, solely because of my gender.
This was difficult, and even certain erstwhile friends made comments like, “How long do you plan to be a schoolmarm?” Oddly, this all strengthened my resolve. I developed an “I’ll show them” attitude, and stuck to it.
Now, in a new millennium, I do believe that attitudes have changed. There are still prejudices, like the automatic presumption that if I am a teacher, then it must be with high school, certainly not nursery or Kindergarten infants. Sometimes, I am met with a sort of condescending “understanding” - I probably lack the capacity for a more meaningful career.
Overall though, acceptance has grown exponentially. Parents want appropriate male role models in the lives of their children, colleagues welcome men, and the growing number of LGBT teachers and families have made gender bias recede. I want to celebrate that, while supporting my colleagues of any gender. Q: Recently you published a very powerful book called ‘The Deep Well of Time”, can you share with us what led to writing this book? What is the core message of the book?
The Deep Well of Time is a book about storytelling in the classroom. Storytelling is at the heart of the Montessori experience, and it has strongly moved me in building relationships with both young people and adult students.
Montessori as a system, is built on relationships. This emerges from the notion of the “House of Children,” the extended age span, and the respectful manner of relating to children. Storytelling really enhances relationships in a powerful way, not approached by any other classroom practice.
Interestingly, storytelling is also a spiritual act. The special bonds that are created between the storyteller and the listener are deep and almost magical. They are bonds of trust and belief. I have been using storytelling with children for decades, and wanted to help others to use this approach. The book grew out of my experience and hope. The book consists of a major section, which outlines the arguments for storytelling as well as how and when to use it in the classroom. Then the rest of the book consists of actual stories that a guide could use in a Montessori –or other – classroom. The core message is, of course, imagination matters and we can both utilize it and develop it through story. A second core message is an imperative, start telling stories!
Here is a citation for the book: The Deep Well of Time: The Transformative Power of Storytelling in the Classroom by Michael J. Dorer (From Parent Child Press )
Q: Finally, do you have a favourite quote?
This is a difficult question, because I have so many. I’ll try my best though. My very favorite Maria Montessori quote is from To Educate the Human Potential:
“Human consciousness comes into the world as a flaming ball of imagination.”
I can’t resist giving you another one, coming from my abiding interest in peace. This is from Montessori’s 1949 work, Education and Peace. It is often quoted differently because of different translations, but this version is excellent  
“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss Montessori. I really appreciate it. Anyone who wants to contact me may do so at mjdorer@gmail.com

Thursday, October 13, 2016

TMM Spotlight: Jeannot Jonte Boucher




Q
:  Hello Jeannot, thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?


My experience of attending public Montessori school in Texas developed so many of the qualities that I now consider key parts of my personality. I can trace my resilience, independence, urge for life-long learning, and even my own self-discipline back to the structure of formative years in Montessori. It’s no wonder that I aspired to become a teacher myself, to give back to the profession that had given so much to me. Was I in for a rude awakening! After working to obtain a bachelor’s of education and teacher’s certificate on scholarship at University of Dallas in 2008, I felt like landing a kindergarten teaching job in public school was a dream come true. Oh, but how crestfallen I was to find my classroom contained scarcely more than tables and chairs, a shelf, and binders full of worksheets. Conventional schools are nothing like my memories of Montessori. Frankly, I found the materials grossly inadequate and the approaches scattered and constantly being either micromanaged or overhauled. Try as I might to adapt traditional methods to what I know works from the Montessori style of education, it was too much of an uphill battle.

I am so glad I stuck with education. My hopes to give back, of the same quality that I had been given, came true in 2012 when I was able to interview to work at a new school innovation. Based on parent petition, the district would be transforming Dallas neighbourhood school Eduardo Mata Elementary into a public, open-enrolment Montessori school. Attending Montessori training toward the international teaching diploma (AMI) was a spiritual experience. I would leave the long days of training in specialized materials and philosophical implications feeling like we were doing something much bigger than just teaching math, teaching reading. The underpinnings of every aspect of Montessori pedagogy leads you to the discovery of the dignity of the child, the dignity of the human person, and the capacity for a peaceful child to bring about a better kind of world for all of us.

To any teacher considering Montessori, I have to tell you, bringing Montessori to a Title I, poverty-population with no competitive enrolment, in the public sector, is a daily inspiration. Our public school administrators have been patient with us, giving us time to demonstrate what we can do. We were nervous, wondering if we could pull in those national scores that earn autonomy from demands for drill-and- kill so common in some districts. We wondered what our appraisals would be like in a system of pay-for- performance for teachers. And we have worked our tails off—in addition to all of our Montessori training, my peers and I who did not yet have masters degrees in education enrolled ourselves to study early literacy, Montessori, and dyslexia at schools like Southern Methodist and Dallas Baptist here in Dallas. Good isn’t enough; if we were to prove to those looking down that the public need Montessori, we would have to put in our best. 

If Montessori is a spiritual experience, this is where we had to extend our faith. To 
our great and continued celebration, our work has been recognized as a dynamic way of differentiating instruction for diverse learners, supporting student-centered instruction, and getting each child interested in working on just the skill they need to move to the next level. Best of all, visitors saw the fire of curiosity burning in our students.

For myself, I am looking forward to beginning a doctorate of education in urban leadership at Johns Hopkins University, by distance, next school year. I know the future is broad with possibilities, but the idea of opening up more access to the quality of education I’ve seen in public and private Montessori keeps me energized in the classroom—or as we call it, the House of Children—every day.

Jeannot with his instructional coach Vicki Sampeck
Q: What was your first experience with Montessori?

My family didn’t have money for anything like private school, like Montessori. The context of early-90s inner city of Dallas, Texas, before it was gentrified with organic food shops and chic pizza taverns and vintage shops, it was almost ruins. The public schools at the time had poor reputations due to overcrowding, violence, drugs, gangs, graffiti, and teen pregnancy. The high school near me was Sunset, something people used to mock in those days for representing the end of hope for the kids. That’s the worst, isn’t it? Dallas has seen such a transformation since then, and campuses like Sunset are now models for turn-around. My parents told me it gave them anxiety to wonder what their options could possibly be for getting their two kids a good education.

One day, at a thrift store—a charity store, in the US-- a mother started up a conversation with my parents about a school she found for her children. A public Montessori school deep in the south side of town, an area notorious for poverty and civic depression. But she said it was exceptional and worth applying and sending the kids braving a bus ride from anywhere in the city.


I was eight when I first visited Harry Stone Montessori, one of Dallas’ three public Montessori schools now, and I still recall marvelling over children speaking in quiet, friendly tones in the cafeteria, on red-checkered table cloths with fresh flowers in the middle of the tables. The children seemed to be some other kind of being, the way they moved so independently through their mixed-age classrooms, working on their own in the halls and without anyone directing from the front of the room at all. My younger sister Jackie and I flourished there, all the way up to 8th grade.

When I was nine years old, just beginning my upper elementary years at Stone, I decided I wanted to be a Montessori guide just like my teacher, Mr. Hoffman. His gentleness, peace, and sense of humor lent themselves well toward being idolized as my childhood role-model. (I was a bit shy around him, however, and told him I wanted to be a palaeontologist when he asked, ha!) It would be almost twenty years before life would make that a possibility for me, but I never let go of the vision of the grace, peace, and independence I saw at work there as a child. I wanted everyone to be able to have what I saw there. I love that he is still a mentor for me, as a male Montessorian and now multi-generational Montessorian myself. My youngest, five, is a Montessori child now!


Jeannot with his five year old 



Q: Can you share with us a Montessori moment that continues to inspire your practice


How can I pick only one! Since we are nearing Halloween, I have to share a little hocus-pocus.

That day, I had been sitting on the floor with a group of children, looking through cards for the enrichment of vocabulary. You will have to bear with me on this background information to get to the fascinating part of this story-- Because Texas is a bilingual state, most of our early childhood materials come with Spanish on one side and English on another, color-coded. My students are in an English class, so they know to use the English side for reading.

I had one stubborn child, whom we can call Elijah. (Stubborn children are my favorite, if we get to pick a favorite quality, because I am stubborn, too!) This stubborn child continued to flip to the “wrong” side and leave his work incomplete, despite my instructions. In our method of logical consequence, if a child is misusing materials, you can help them put it away and chose a different activity until they honor instructions.

But that night— and here is the magic. My dream resumed this moment of reaching to pick up Elijah’s materials. In walked an appraiser, as constantly happens in public schools. The small woman sat down at the rug near me, quite silently for a long time, observing. Finally, I explained that we had been working on a vocabulary presentation. She nodded, “What is he doing,” gesturing to the boy. I answered, but she simply asked again, directing my gaze away from her and back to him.

It was an epiphany: Elijah was reading to himself in Spanish. He didn’t speak Spanish, but his peers did, and he was taking it upon himself become his own teacher. “He cannot obey you more than his inward urge to learn,” she smiled, and again pointed to Elijah. “What is he doing?”—this time, asking in a way to remind me to keep watching the children.  And I saw her, in the dream, crocheting a beautiful doily. At that moment, I realized that perhaps I had been so lucky as to be visited in my dream by the Dottoressa herself, or at least to be visited by my heart’s understanding of her powerful message.

Our work is to watch and learn from the child, so that we may serve her and give her everything she needs to build her own success. Never teaching, never covering or checking off lessons; always guiding, always gifting the heritage of human understanding. I think often of the kind face in my dream that reminded me, at a moment I needed to hear it.

A child at Jeannot's school making bean burrito, which requires the integration of many practical life skills.



Q: What’s your favourite Montessori quote? And why?


“All our handling of the child will bear fruit, not only at the moment, but in the adult they are destined to become.”

There is so much in our environments placed there with intention and honor for the child. I think, sometimes we can wonder how important it really is to follow exacting details of our practice, according to this rigorous training. In this pedagogy, we think often about the child who is coming to be and all we cannot see or measure at this time. When we strive to put real paintings on the walls of our class, when we search for real glass vases for fresh flowers in the rooms, when we use real wood in our materials, and when we begin presenting cursive to the three-year-old child, we send her a message: “You, child, are so valuable that we want to offer you the finest that we have as a culture, made from human hands. We trust in your ability.” We have such a special opportunity to invite the child to take part in a long, collaborative story of learning.

I love the intangibles. You can buy a whole classroom set of materials and set them on the shelf, but it is the sense of community that comes from the multi-age classroom and developing independence in the space that truly makes it come alive. There is a kind of compassion and empathy—social cohesion—that comes out of our Montessori spaces that has a power to grow and develop as the child grows and becomes an adult. Yes, our presentations serve the needs of the present child, but they also have the capacity to be the seeds that grow within a community for a whole and developed culture. It’s never just one child.

Pictured above is an older child scaffolding the learning of a younger one


Q: Is there a Montessori material you love particularly and why?


What would it mean, around the world, if all children began the study of culture at the age of three with The Sandpaper Globe, a globe with no political divisions? This is all of our home. Then, in early geography study with the Puzzle Maps, as children advance to study continents and all the countries within continents, they gain such an early sense of human unity. I adore the culture folders, giving very young children photos of our diverse ways of meeting fundamental needs in different places. It sounds so simple, but under rising tides of racism and nationalism, these simple messages offered to the foundational, Absorbent Mind of the child have the capacity to shape future society’s vision of our unity across borders and color.  

When I think about Dr. Montessori and the geography materials, I think about her context of living through two world wars, having been exiled from her beloved Italy for challenging fascism, and becoming a friend of Gandhi while in India. The concerns which inspired these materials, and the promise of peace still offered by the child who can grow and transform society, remain with us today.

In the South, and really in large areas of the United States, teachers still struggle greatly with how to begin lessons and presentations that build a notion of tolerance for diversity, at a developmentally appropriate level. Without knowing exactly how to go about it, we know that respect for plurality—and all the value we must impart for Black lives and lives of color, women’s lives, elder lives, trans lives, disabled lives, immigrant lives, impoverished lives, queer lives, along with many other marginalizing and privileging identities--  is an essential component of democracy. In the Montessori geography presentations, we find a way to begin those conversations of unity with a small child, in a way accessible to their senses. It’s really quite moving.


Jeannot (to the left) with children playing the Parachute game

Monday, September 26, 2016

TMM Spotlight: Cornelius Geaney


Men continue to be under represented in the early years sector. Listen to Cornelius Geaney as he shares his experience working with young children.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

TMM Spotlight: Matt Bronsil

Matt Bronsil with a student exploring the Touch Fabrics, used for the development and refinement of the tactile sense


Q
: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?

My name is Matt Bronsil. I grew up with two Montessori teachers as parents. They are fantastic, but I was always certain I wanted to be anything BUT a teacher. (Sounds like Maria, doesn’t it?)


I originally went to school for Theology and was going to be a United Methodist Minister. Then I went to work on cars. Finally, I ended up in computers. After 9/11, companies stopped buying computers for a while, and I was out of a job. I managed to get a job interview at a Montessori school. I saw the ad in the paper and called, but they informed me they had already finished with the interviews and decided on someone. I was still welcome to send in my resume. I said I would and she asked me my name.
“Matt Bronsil,” I replied.
“Did you say Bronsil?” she asked.
“Yes.”
“As in Beth Bronsil?” (My mom)
“Yes.”
“She was one of my teacher trainers. What time can you come in?”

So I got that interview because of my name, but I stayed in the job mainly for something that happened. I was interviewing for the Toddler class. A group of boys were in the inside play area. One of them (a 2 1/2 year old) asked if I wanted to play. There I was in a suit and tie, sitting in a chair at a table, while a group of children sat with me and pretended to cook me dinner. It all felt natural to me. “This is where I should be,” I thought. And I never looked back.

Q: What was your first experience with Montessori?



Before I could even remember. My parents brought me into the Montessori classroom when I was an infant. My brother and I, as babies, were part of the practical life area and the children helped take care of us.

Baby Matt in his mother's classroom in the year 1976-77
I have a few memories from that classroom, but they do not really scream “Montessori.” There were two old ladies who often came to our school from the retirement village to read to us and I remember them.
One of my earliest vivid memories was after my mom moved jobs to Xavier University’s Montessori program. My brother and I were waiting for my mom to finish work and he handed me a unit bead. He said, “This is one.” Then he handed me the 1000 cube, dropping it into my hand. “This is A THOUSAND.” I probably spent the next 20 minutes staring at that cube, mesmerised by how many beads there were.

Child working with the Golden Beads activity exploring place values and quantity in a concrete way
Q: Can you share with us a Montessori moment that continues
to inspire your practice


The one above continues more than anything. I loved how amazing that material was. I love inspiring that in other students.

I am also big on how to treat and respect children. I am amazed at how well calm, conscious discipline works with children. Every time I see an angry child know how to deal with their anger based off something I told him or her, it makes me happy.


Q: What’s your favourite Montessori quote? And why?



“Never do for a child that which he feels he can do on his own.”

I’m not sure if that is the exact wording of the quote, but it is something I tell parents all the time. I think we should look at our environment and continue to ask ourselves, “Is what I am doing, something the children can do instead?”


Q: Is there a Montessori material you love particularly and why?

I don’t have a favorite area or material. Except for freaking MATH. I love the math area mostly because I grew up with Montessori. I saw the huge difference between myself and other students when I left Montessori, in regards to how I understood math. Notice I did not say how much math I learned, but how I could visualise and understand the ideas. The whole thing was mind-blowing!
Matt's classroom in Taiwan.