Thursday, November 26, 2009

Playing with the Planisphere or Working with the World (Part 2)

I've always been a fan of a little alliteration even before Lemony Snicket came out with 'The Bad Beginning', 'The Penultimate Peril', and the rest of A Series of Unfortunate Events. So I thought of two titles for the previous post--Playing with the Planisphere or Working with the World. Having used the words play and work, I thought this should be a good time to segue to what Maria Montessori said about a child's work.

Maria Montessori, in her book, 'The Secret of Childhood', said that "a child is also a worker and a producer... he has its own difficult and important task to perform, that of producing a man."

In a Montessori classroom, we don't "play", we "work". At the beginning of the school year, when we have children who just came in, using the word "work", instead of "play", to refer to what they are doing is one of the things that we introduce and encourage. The purposes of this, I think, is not only philosophical or semiotical; it is also practical. Giving the children a language, a term for what they do in school and distinguishing the work done in the classroom from the play they do after class in the playground helps the children categorize their activities and corollary to that, categorize the behavior and disposition expected of them. I find, though my observation has yet to be backed up by research and statistics, that the children who start saying "work" instead of "I will play with the parquetry blocks" or "I want to play with this" are those who are increasingly becoming more calm and concentrated.

Associating what they do in school, with what their parents do, which is work, seems to instill in them a kind of weight and seriousness so much so that they, too, give their own work (and their classmates') more importance and regard. And rightly so, because there's real hard work everyday:

Here's Julia with her map of North America.

I never thought Felipe will have the patience and perseverance to make his own map of South America. But there are real surprises everyday, too.

Ia has always been a perfect example of a normalized child.
She loves work and relishes those that are sufficiently challenging for her.
Here is Ia working on the material I talked about in
Part 1 of this post.
* Download templates of the 7 continents at Montessori in a Box.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mars,
    I worked and took Montessori training myself. It forever changed the way I teach! In the U.S.(where I am from) any school can call call themselves Montessori for any reason-Montessori is not fully understood here and does not have a good reputation. I teach it anyway, and don't say what it is (families & children love it). I am in the field of Early Childhood Education. I can see that you are passionate about your work. The children have normalized, yes...but they also look content (that comes from the teacher).
    I would be honored if you stopped by our site for a visit and gave us some feed back.