I am a grandmother and an educator, retired from many years of teaching in both public and private schools in the USA and overseas.
While I was a student attending Seattle University, I began to question the established system of teaching children.
When I began teaching in 1967, the public school system organized children into large classes with only one teacher in a room. Teachers learned classroom management techniques. Children were classified into one basic age group and learned to expect grades and accept rewards. Beginning in their early years, grades separate students into winners and losers at a time when a child's mind and body is developing at their own rate.
I could not help but wonder what if their learning environments could be arranged differently?
How can our public schools develop a new system of education that supports each child to develop into a healthy, competent, caring human being?
Dr. Montessori said reconstruction is based on research. The whole work of research begins with an idea that results in purposeful action, and freedom to develop. Action brings discovery.
"A discovery to be real must contain something new. This element of novelty is an open door to those who have the courage to go through. It is a door which gives access to hitherto unexplored fields. It is therefore a fantastic, a marvelous door, which ought to strike the imagination" ~ Maria Montessori
Our collaboration between the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and our nonprofit Maria Montessori Language and Cultural Center resulted in the first FCS/Montessori Early Learning Lab School in the nation at Ballard High School in Seattle.
The site was licensed as a child care and our program planning included time for students to come into the childrens space and write observation reports.
The MMLCC offered neighborhood after school programs in the arts, Chinese, and Italian. Both teachers shared Monday monthly planning sessions and both gave class presentations to high school students on the history of early childhood programs. Emphasis was placed on the study of child development. Students, children, parents and community benefited from attending workshops and having professionals come to speak such as: a Brain Surgeon, a physician, an author, Firemen, Parks Dept., Scientists, Musicians, NVC trainers, Actors, a Native American Apache storyteller with his Family of Dancers and, we obtained grants from King County to develop activities introducing Marshall Rosenberg's methods to resolve conflict with non-violent communication.
High School Students in the labschool were coached how to assist in the environment Some chose to assist as interns. Their main focus covered practical life activities. Humanities Washington granted us books and students read children's books and recorded them to give to the children. Students came from other countries and had practice reading aloud in English. Some students came from Viet Nam, Africa, Japan, Thailand, Ireland, and the Middle East, and the children had the benefit of meeting Students from around the world. These were only some of the many experiences that took place during the alignment.
Listen to Gail as she speaks about her philosophy of education