Monday, June 20, 2016

today was the first day of training,

... and I'm not sure if I can keep myself upright. As I write this, I am on the back patio, tired from the hour commute, but grateful that I can come home to my family every night. There are parents coming in from Duluth, from Sioux Falls, from Houston Denver and Colombia. My own are just an hour's reasonably paced drive away.

I wish I had the brainspace and energy to unpack today. I could make a list of events: introductions, snacking on fresh fruit on the front lawn, learning a new song, a documentary, a lecture, a game involving balls, some journal-writing, what else? Oh, yes. The silent walkabout in the only Montessori Museum (at all? or in the US?)--here's one of the earliest moveable alphabets.

One question that has rattled around in my mind: Why is Montessori not more well-known? If the studies are correct, if this is such an ideal form of education, why aren't more people learning in this way? There are plenty of off reasons we can list, mainly about misconceptions or lack of awareness, but the one that I think makes the most sense to me is this: there needs to be a transformation, or, as some of the other students put it, a personal connection. It's like the discovery of one of those kitchen tricks or just how buttery those leggings really are, except it's education.

For our family, we opted to send our kids to preschool after a mild discussion (do we invest more in college? do we send them now? do we go with a church-y place or something else? What is Waldorf? What is Montessori? They both like natural things; that's good, right?) and found the only option that felt like it had much to do with education (and it had much to do with education, let me tell you) was Red Cottage. So off Maya went, even though I was mostly skeptical because I wanted her to make friends--the point was social interaction, wasn't it?--and they were teaching her independence. What the what.

All that shifted when I finally got the opportunity to observe. Suddenly, that click, the one that you can hear as some gear falls right into place. Suddenly, it was amazing! miraculous! why on earth was this not happening in every classroom? I became a convert swiftly after that and in this most recent year, when I did some volunteering in the classroom and thus was exposed to more, I found myself coming up with excuses to come in more and more: oh, I'll do gardening with them and oh, let's do a poetry lesson, and yes, I'd be happy to come back again and again to photograph the children at work for the website. What else, tell me what else.

We all need that transformative moment, the one where we finally see what it's all about and step back and say in that small I-just-realized-it-voice: oh. But that OH is HUGE! That oh is all of your skepticism sloughing off, and it's even more special if it's your own son or daughter who hails the arrival of your new view. Hello, parent, this is what's best for my brain and soul--isn't it amazing? All in that one little sound, that oh.

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