Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Lies Within Us

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are all small matters compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week I experienced one of the many rewards of being a Montessori teacher. Two of the oldest girls at school self initiated a research project completely on their own, and proudly delivered it to the class some days later. They were able to do this for so many reasons that are related to the genius behind the Montessori environment. Among them: they were free to choose their work, they were free to work on what they selected for as long as they wanted, they've had 2 years of experience confidently communicating with other children and felt comfortable and supported by the group, they've developed interests and have had the freedom to pursue them, they have independently developed the skills to allow them to carry out a work of this nature.

It was a pleasure to watch these girls bring their unique gifts to the project.

The girls are five and six years old, and all they said to me was "We want to make a project", so I said "Ok, make me a list of what you will need." (The oldest children often make me materials lists for things they have in mind for making.)

They found all the library books in our library about dolphins and read them to each other. They then wrote out a presentation, including the way they would introduce each other to the group.

Then they illustrated a poster and brought dolphin pictures they'd printed out from home to glue onto it (the poster also had jellyfish with bows on their heads drawn on it).

They then locked themselves in our little school library with the xylophone for a long time. It turns out that they were composing a song on the topic for closing the presentation. And at the end they wrote out invitations to the presentation and handed them out the morning of the presentation.

(I got invited too!)

The children were asked to bring chairs onto the porch if they wanted to watch the presentation. Everyone came.

The girls read their presentation with glowing faces. It was funny and interesting, and very inspiring! At the end, they performed the song they'd composed. It starts "Dolphins are so sweet, they like humans..."

To me, this was a testament of how, when given the right conditions, a child can rise to their true potential.


Abigail Miller said...

Congratulations! It is clear that you've created a beautiful community in which young people can flourish and unlock their unknown potential. I know how much work and energy goes into preparing that kind of environment. I really enjoy your blog and learn a lot from your experience.

Anonymous said...

How delightful and rewarding!! I admire the comfortable and nurturing environment your students are allowed to thrive in.

Evelyn / 2 Pequenos Traviesos said...

Thank you for posting this and sharing your thoughts, pictures and especially the video. This IS really amazing coming from 5 and 6 yo. I'm sure you have a lot to do with this.
Blessing to all!

Grasshoppers said...

i am interested to know how you manage the learning of maths and reading and writing within your environment. I lOVe the thought of your girls working so hard on this, for as long as they want.. but do you just not worry about the maths etc? I am asking.. as I am teaching the same age children and do not know how to manage this.. if they choose to do a project.. but do nothing else for a week!