Tuesday, September 22, 2009

7 Japanese aesthetic principles to inspire your classroom design

I found author Garr Reynolds' blog through accident and found his post on Japanese aesthetic principles to be quite inspiring. How well it is suited for translation into a Montessori environment! I had never before considered how many parallels exist between a Japanese garden and a Montessori environment. (My interpretation follows, but it pales in comparison with the original post, read it!)

Seven principles for designing your Montessori environment

1. Simplicity. The post mentions "elimination of clutter." How many of my stuffed closets does this bring to mind? I love the idea of the very simple Montessori environment, where everything has a place and there is a place for everything. There is an elegance to a sparse environment and the natural materials. Clarity as an extension of simplicity.

2. Asymmetry or irregularity. The idea here is that symmetry often involves a lot of control, Irregularity is more natural, an okness with imperfection. Friendliness with error, anyone?

3. "Direct and simple without being flashy." "Being precisely what is was meant to be". To me, in terms of the environment, this means child proportioned and purposeful. The materials are very direct and minimal- the isolated difficulty, the materialized abstraction.

4. Naturalness. Natural materials evoke much more to the senses than artificial materials. It is easier to trace their history as well. The post also mentions "full creative intent unforced", " design is not an accident, even when we are trying to create a natural-feeling environment"(what beautiful wording!) To me, this means that the flow created within the environment is not totally lawless and not under a total control- reminds me of freedom and limits.

5. "Profundity or suggestion rather than revelation." "Showing more by showing less."

6. "...made with the raw materials of nature and its success in revealing the essence of natural things to us is an ultimate surprise. Many surprises await at almost every turn in a" Montessori environment.

7. "Tranquility or an energized calm" (What a perfect description of the ultimate goal in design of a classroom!)


SmartPumpkin'sMom said...

I cannot agree more! :D
Thanks for sharing.

eyesonnature - Anja said...

Last July I had the privilege of attending one of Garr's workshops when he was visiting New Zealand. I wrote about simplicity and Zen aesthetics and its effect on my teaching in my blog at the time. Garr continues to inspire me. His blog PresentationZen is well worth reading.

Montesecrets said...

In our Montessori classroom, we used to have a mini-Japanese garden on one of the shelves. The children absolutely LOVED IT! Thanks for a great post!

Montesecrets said...

BTW:I recently wrote a post on the effects of Labyrinths. Check it out here: http://www.montesecrets.com/2009/09/30/labyrinths/