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AMI Journal

AMI Journal 2004/4

25th International Montessori Congress, AMI
AMI courses worldwide as at December, 2004, AMI
Announcements, AMI

AMI Journal 2004/2-3

Remembering and Celebrating Camillo Grazzini, AMI
Cosmic Education at the Elementary Level and the Role of the Materials, Camillo Grazzini

This issue of Communications pays tribute to the memory and fine mind of Camillo Grazzini, long-time director of training at the AMI training centre in Bergamo, who died earlier this year. “Cosmic Education at the Elementary Level and the Role of the Materials” beautifully illustrates his deep understanding of Cosmic Education and its implications for the Second Plane Child. This article is based on a paper delivered at the AMI International Study Conference on “The Child, The Family, The Future”, held in Washington, D.C. in July, 1994.

Camillo Grazzini recounts his close collaboration with Mario Montessori concerning work done with children at the elementary level. He describes how Mario Montessori would extensively lecture ‘on the psychology of the elementary age child; on the environment, materials and work of the teacher in relation to the child of six to twelve; [Mario] would also give lectures on the cosmic fables as psychological keys to the exploration of culture. These cosmic fables are:

1 God Who Has No Hands—the story of the creation of the universe, etc. and, therefore, the greatest vision of the whole that can be offered to the child (introducing geography in particular)

2 Story of Life—both the appearance or coming of life and the evolutionary succession (introducing biology)

3 Story of the Appearance or Coming of Man—(introducing human history)

4 Story of ‘The Ox and the House’—which is the story of the alphabet (for language)

5 Story of Numbers or of Counting—(for mathematics)

6 Story of ‘The Country/Nation of the Great River’—commonly known as ‘The Great River’: the story of the human body (for human physiology and anatomy).’

Mr Grazzini illustrates some of the activities carried out under Mario Montessori’s guidance when study groups ‘prepared materials for each of the subject areas in a different part of the room. These materials were designed to correspond and appeal to the sensitivities and tendencies of a child of the second plane of development: imagination, culture, morality, etc.’

The interdependencies of the various subjects studied were exemplified, and a concrete three-dimensional image of Maria Montessori’s words was created. ‘One of the purposes of education is to relate the studies (or subjects), one with the other, around the Cosmic Centre. For you cannot understand biology without understanding chemistry or physics, and you cannot study life without its environment, which brings us to geography. (…) And every subject is a more detailed description of the one fundamental principle’.

San Remo Lectures: IV World Unity through the Child, Maria Montessori

This issue sees the conclusion of the series of four San Remo lectures, delivered by Maria Montessori to the 8th International Montessori Congress, August, 1949. The title of the Congress was La Formazione dell'Uomo nella Ricostruzione Mondiale [Man's Formation in World Reconstruction].

In this lecture Montessori acutely identifies the suffering of humanity and its limitations in trusting the child. ‘Our work will most surely be inspired by our reflections with regard to the child; above all, the perception of the child as the constructor of civilisation and progress will imbue us with the faith to follow a new road—a road that, we are convinced, leads to the solution of humanity’s gravest problems.

A bewildered humanity has long been searching for harmony, for a point of understanding where hope and the common interest may converge. Humanity has not yet found this point. Many say that to reach an accord we should begin by eliminating all racial and national prejudices. However, is it possible to disregard elements that appear to be essential to our life and that of others? Reconstruction cannot originate from a negative formula which demolishes the essential structures of social organisation that have prevailed in the world until now.’

Maria Montessori and UNESCO, Victoria Barres

This article by Victoria Barres ties in appropriately with Montessori’s own San Remo lectures. Victoria argues that Montessori in 1950, ‘still energetic despite her eighty years, participated in founding meetings of UNESCO institutions. One task was to create the International Institute of Education to promote international peace through education. Discussions abounded about reconstructing Europe, linked to educating the ‘new man’. Finally Maria Montessori, politely but firmly, told members that for decades many others, including herself, had devoted enormous energy to raising such issues as the links between education, peace and world reconstruction—the very issues under discussion. Yet war continued to be viewed as a response to violence, with little analysis of the consequences of war. War not only weakened the population’s health and welfare but also planted the seeds of future discord.

Maria Montessori insisted that if humanity wished to succeed in establishing solid foundations for world peace, it had to focus on the prevention of war.’

Montessori and Moral Development: Part I, Greg MacDonald

Moral development is a subject that throughout history has been widely discussed, advocated and oft times despaired upon. Today, in our complex society, it continues to be relevant. In his article on “Montessori and Moral Development”, Greg MacDonald takes the reader through the child’s developmental planes, dwelling on the insights and discoveries made by Maria Montessori as well as her practical observations and suggestions for the child and the adult alike.

Greg clearly shows that ‘The Montessori theory of moral development is a component of Maria Montessori's child development theory. (…) throughout the world children seemed to develop according to a pattern that was common to all. The timing of any part of the pattern's appearance in any one child was unpredictable. However, it seemed that children within a particular age range tended to behave in the same manner, manifesting a common pattern of behaviour.

Eventually, Montessori developed from these observations her concept of the “Four Planes of Development”. Children, she stated, appeared to pass through four stages of development. Each lasted for about six years. Each manifested different physical development, different behaviours and different learning powers. 'If these periods be considered separately, the typical mentality of the children in each appears so different that they might almost belong to different individuals.'

Maria Montessori concluded that if we were ‘to best serve children, then we should tailor what we do with them to their plane of development. Their needs were different at each plane’. (…) ‘As she observed children, Montessori also forged a theory of moral development. New manifestations of moral development occurred in each of the four planes of development’.

The Montessori "Secret", Monica Sullivan Smith

In the Montessori Secret, Monica Sullivan Smith invites the reader to look at “Montessori” with different eyes and a different mindset. She argues that the basic Montessori philosophy can be beneficial in any environment, taking it out of the traditional classroom and school.

‘The Absorbent Mind and the Sensitive Periods; the Stages of Development and the Human Tendencies; the Child as the Teacher, the Adult as a Guide and Education as an Aid to Life: all are recognised as some of the most basic principles applied in the Montessori prepared environment. When we hear the word “Montessori” most of us think of such things as the pink tower, the perfectly prepared practical life exercises, the ellipse (for walking on the line), and golden bead materials. We are so quick to equate “Montessori” with prepared environment. In reality, Montessori developmental principles are true of every child, at all times, no matter what environment he is in. Dr. Montessori’s own work, which was not confined to a particular space, materials, or to children working only with a trained teacher, should give us inspiration for expanding our horizons.

As Montessori educators, we have not just our ability to prepare our Montessori environments and devote our lives to what we believe to be the best educational approach in the world, but also wonderful “secrets” about children that the general public can apply in their own work with children. It does not take a great deal of effort to help others understand, for example, the manifestations of sensitive periods, or the characteristics of the stages of development. By working with other professionals, those trained in Montessori can help others learn to observe children through “Montessori eyes” and respond to their needs more effectively.’

This year 80 years ago... Focus on important events of 1924, AMI
Human Construction: The Ultimate Expression of Creativity Report from the AMI/USA National Conference 2004, Paulette Zoë
April in Amsterdam: Photographs, AMI
Report of the Annual General Meeting, AMI
AMI Board Appointments, AMI
Financial Report-2003, AMI
Report on the Activities of the MM 75 Fund in 2003, AMI
Other Reports, AMI
Announcements, AMI

AMI Journal 2004/1

2004 Assembly of Educateurs sans Frontières, AMI
Message from AMI's President, Renilde Montessori
In Passionate Defence of Peace, Renilde Montessori

...In Education and Peace Maria Montessori states 'As for peace, it has never been the object of an orderly and ongoing process of investigation that goes by the name of a science; on the contrary, a clear concept of peace does not figure among the countless ideas that enrich our human awareness.' The essence of peace remains undefined and no sensible human being would spend time and energy, let alone passion, on chasing an ignis fatuus. The perception of peace is nebulous and subjective, both collectively and individually. Usually it is understood as an absence or cessation of greater or lesser sources of disquiet that beset humanity-war being cardinal among them.

Remembering Camillo Grazzini, Renilde Montessori, David Kahn
San Remo Lectures: III, The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori

...The first formative years of the child are of exceptional importance in the formation and evolution. They embody a nucleus of energies and capacities that must be assisted to develop wholesomely, for if they deviate, the consequences are irreparable.

We know that in this period man's positive as well as his negative qualities come into being and that the sum total of these qualities will characterise the adult.

(...) We have the possibility to form the citizen of the world and the study of the young child is fundamental to the peace and progress of humanity.

The child does not absorb things haphazardly; he has a strict inner guide. He follows unalterable laws that determine not only events, but also the time when these events will normally take place. At two years of age, for example, all children speak, the African child, the Indian child, the European child; they speak African languages, Indian languages and European languages. And apparently there are no teachers, there is no curriculum to be followed, there are no exams. It is an invisible teacher that instils knowledge into the pupils without their being aware of it. It is a marvellous thing.

The school, conceived as an institution for the cultivation of humanity, assumes an aspect totally different from that of the modern schools where teachers dedicate all their efforts to making the children study. The school, in my view, should be considered as a help to development. The hunger of developing minds is akin to the hunger of a starved body.

Children want to know everything and ask an infinite variety of questions and their unfortunate teachers, as a rule, know so little.

Remembering Joyce Goonesekera, Sister M. Stanislaus
Annual General Meeting of the Association Montessori Internationale Agenda and Venue, AMI
Secretarial Report for 2003, AMI
Report on "Montessori: Education for Peace - From Pre-school through Adolescence" Munich, Germany, 9-11 January, 2003, Tobias Fürstenau

Montessori Internationales Ausbildungszentrum (MIA e.V), the AMI Teacher Training Centre in Germany, hosted, for the first time, an international conference. The interest from Germany and Europe in general was vast and speakers addressed a 'full house'. One fifth of the participants came from outside Germany, i.e. from the Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. Tobias Fürstenau, a communications expert specialising in Montessori topics, covered the conference and wrote a report especially for AMI.

Lecturers from various countries addressed an audience of about 250 Montessori professionals and other teachers. The weekend of January 9 to 11 was packed with reports and practical demonstrations on how, for all levels of child development, the Montessori Method is implemented today.

The conference speakers emphasised how Education for Peace could be a possible solution to many of the world's future problems. They expanded on the need to allow young people to grow up in a prepared environment, so that they are able to develop their personal and social capabilities and competencies. This would equip the children to manage their future life, and care for this world. They want to be part of our future society, and will be. They want to take a positive attitude and play a role in their own future, and they will. They are ambitious to learn all about nature and human existence, and they do learn.

The following keynote speakers gave presentations: Lilian Bryan provided a deep insight into the phenomenon of normalisation.

David Kahn reported on the theory of flow of Csikszentmihalyi's findings, who himself was stunned on finding out he had been beaten to the post by Montessori so many years ago.

Practical demonstrations on how to present complex mathematical operations or the cycles of night and day on earth were given by Dr. Peter Gebhardt-Seele, the only German AMI elementary teacher trainer (for 6 to 12 years).

Bilingual education principles and practical demonstrations were presented by Lynne Lawrence, AMI primary teacher trainer in London, together with Maria Roth, Germany's only AMI primary teacher trainer (for 3-6 years).

Furthermore, workshops were held on the following topics:
• the prepared environment for 0-3 year-olds by Cordula Lehrer
• the prepared environment for 3-6 year-olds by Maria Roth
• Montessori work with the aging adult by Bianca Mattern
• people with special needs by Lore Anderlik
• how to work with parents of children in Montessori institutions by Bärbel Klaukien
• theory and examples of Cosmic Education by Anne Dunne
• religion in the context of Montessori by Claudia Schmidt.

This year 90 years ago...Focus on important events of 1914, AMI
Question and Answer: The importance and role of food in the Montessori Infant Community, Judi Orion
Changes to Blueprints, AMI
Montessori - A Pioneer in the Movement of Social Reform for Children, Victoria Barres

During the Conference "The Child as Builder of Humanity", held from 26 to 28 September 2003, in Sydney, Australia, Takako Fukatsu and Victoria Barres gave a joint presentation on Montessori initiatives outside the classroom, around the world. An important aspect was the consideration of how "Montessori Principles Contribute to an International Movement of Social Reform".

Montessori was intrigued by several fundamental questions: can physical health be achieved separately from emotional, intellectual and spiritual health? Are there links between "inner peace" and "outer peace"? Can ordinary people contribute to peace? For Montessori, these issues were linked to the harmonious development of the child.

Dr. Montessori's principles are used successfully in families and schools. Not all people, however, are fully aware that Montessori advocated a movement of social reform for children, whom she called the "forgotten citizens". Schools were a means to reach her goal of helping children develop harmoniously in healthy environments; they were never an end in themselves. Families, communities, and countries needed to understand the child's developmental needs, so that they could provide appropriate environments that would allow all children to develop their human potential. Montessori used her lectures, training courses and publications as means to reach the general public and shape opinion.

Announcements, AMI
Membership Fees, AMI
AMI Courses Worldwide as at January 1, 2004, AMI

AMI Journal 2003/4

2004 Assembly of Educateurs sans Frontières, AMI
The Universality of Montessori's Discoveries, Megan Tyne, Victoria Barres, Zarin Malva, Dinny Rebild and Takako Fukatso

The Second in a Series on Montessori Endeavours Worldwide

This issue of Communications presents accounts of some Montessori work undertaken with families and communities in Asia, Australia and Europe. We hope that these stories will encourage others to share their own experiences in future issues.

The examples from three continents show that the Montessori approach fits well within diverse cultures, also with refugee children, street-children, and those in vulnerable environments. We thank Victoria Barres for initiating the series and for keeping the idea alive. Our thanks also go to Zarin Malva, Dinny Rebild, and Takako Fukutsu for their contributions.

To give you an idea of the projects reported on:

Montessori Projects—Australia
At the recent Montessori Conference in Sydney, Australia it was heartening to learn that the indigenous communities especially appreciate the fact that within Montessori their own culture is respected, the children can progress at their own speed and there is no emphasis on competition. Australia is fortunate to have two Montessori projects with indigenous communities.

Aseema, a non-governmental organisation established in 1995, promotes and protects the human rights of under-privileged children and women. It draws inspiration from the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.

There has been a growing concern in India about the shortfalls in implementing the educational programmes, especially in the area of primary education. Aseema has dedicated the first phase of its programme to address exactly this issue and established the centre for street children in Mumbai on 15th December 1997. The uniqueness of this centre lies in its Montessori philosophy and teaching approach.

A Montessori centre has been established for children aged two-and-a-half to seven years. It is the first of its kind for the children living on the streets of Mumbai. Fully equipped with Montessori apparatus and run by two trained teachers, the children thrive under the nourishing love and learning they receive at the centre.

J.’s Story—Denmark
This is the story of a two-year-old child who has lived in a refugee centre her whole life. Her parents fled from one of the many wars the world is witness to in these years, together with two other children of then eight and ten years. Both parents were traumatised and more and more J. was looked after by other residents at the centre and by her siblings. To compensate for love that could not be given, J. was fed enormous amounts of food, so by the time she began in ‘Project Small Children’ she was very obese.

‘Commitment to a Wider Community: The Global Child An Example from Southeast Asia’
This was the title of a lecture presented by Takako Fukatsu at the Montessori Conference in Sydney, Australia: Sept. 26 to 28, 2003.She describes some of the work she did in a refugee camp and how she was haunted by the pressing question of how peace can be achieved. Her experiences eventually brought her to Montessori, and later to the Educateurs sans Frontières. Together with Victoria Barres she explained how the idea of Educateurs sans Frontières can propagate and spread ‘Education as an Aid to Life’— which is how Maria Montessori herself described the pedagogy she created.

San Remo Lectures: II Human Solidarity in Time and Space, Maria Montessori

We continue our feature of Maria Montessori’s lectures delivered at the 8th International Montessori Congress, on 22-29 August, 1949, whose title was La Formazione dell’Uomo nella Ricostruzione Mondiale (Man’s Formation in World Reconstruction). This instalment is the lecture 'Human Solidarity in Time and Space'

(…) I remember reading in an Indian book a story that made a deep impression on me. It told the tale of a little shepherdess who had decided to make her environment more beautiful by planting two plants. One was for her own pleasure, the other she dedicated to God. Upon the latter she lavished special care, watering it diligently, protecting it from the sun and keeping it free of insects. The first she neglected, leaving it to the care of others. Contrary to every expectation, the plant dedicated to God died, while the other flourished. In despair, the little shepherdess wondered why her ministrations had had such disastrous results. The reply was: ‘You gave this plant too much water, you protected it from sun and insects while the plant needed chlorophyll from the sun, and insects for its growth and reproduction. You, yourself, destroyed it with your care.’

The same phenomenon occurs in the field of education. Often, the interference of family and educators, even if inspired by the best intentions, becomes an obstacle to the free development of the creative forces within the child, oppressing and suffocating his inner energies, obstructing the natural forces necessary for life.

Remembering...Sister Jerome Keary O.P., AMI
The Formation of Mind Language, Learning and Logic in Early Childhood, Annette Haines

Dr Annette Haines is an AMI Director of Training, holdings both AMI Primary and Elementary diplomas. In this lecture she talks about how language is present in a human being's life from day one. She addresses physical, biological, and psychological aspects and also touches upon the difference in language acquisition in the early years between boys and girls.

"Human beings are not born with language. Little mammals, babies are born with just those instincts necessary for life. Yet, beneath this apparent helplessness (and Montessori was struck with this fact) babies can do amazing things. Newborn infants can do something we cannot: they can suck and swallow without stopping for a breath. As Dr. Montessori understood (being a physician), the necessary muscular coordinations are not yet in place which are needed for speech–coordinations which allow an extended stream of air to pass over the larynx. The baby can only breathe, cry and suck (and a few other things). But, as Montessori said ‘the child possesses a psychic life antecedent to its life of motion’. (1936/1983, p. 34) The baby can look and listen.

(…) Language learning starts as motor movement and remains motor movement stimulated by auditory signals of the mother. The mother does not teach her baby to talk, nor does the baby teach himself. Both are doing this work together, equally drawing on what Howard Gardner calls a universal intelligence of language which is over and above both of them. The infant’s body moves ‘in a precise shared rhythm with the organisation of the speech patterns of the culture’.

Dr Haines concludes " Language is made up of words, and words in language make certain patterns and take on a certain structure which give them their meaning. These patterns adapt to a certain order and, for the most part, maintain that order. The child, with each new generation, absorbs and maintains the patterns, the structure and the order of language. In completing this task, order is created in the child’s inner world; order is given to that internal universe, and to all the matter and energy of that universe which is the mind."

Impressions of "The Child as Builder of Humanity" Sydney, Australia-September 2003, Patricia Wallner

Patricia Wallner wrote a glowing report on the Lead-in Conference “The Child as Builder of Humanity” that was held in Sydney, Australia—September 2003. Share some of her remarks here and start getting reading for the big event in 2005: the 25th International Montessori Congresss, also to take place in Sydney.

"Imagine a beautiful city, a Darling Harbour city, fingers of land interlaced with water sparkling in the sun and one of the most famous buildings in the world arching whitely into the blue sky. (…) Picture a convention centre with walls of glass, its main hall lined with displays of books, art supplies, and Montessori materials presented by old friends like Nienhuis and Gonzagarredi."

Imagine arriving at this centre and being met in the parking lot by a smiling hospitality volunteer sporting a bright pink scarf who escorted us into the elevator and rode up with us to be sure we had no problems finding the registration table and our personalised satchels containing the conference information.

(…) Meanwhile, the 2005 International Montessori Congress in Sydney is now being planned and prepared for with enthusiasm (…) The women and men who planned this forerunner to the Congress did a superb job. Thank you to the Australian AMI Alumni Association and the Montessori Association of New Zealand Inc.

…I urge you all, save either your dollars, euros, yen, pesos or all of these currencies and start planning for July 2005. If the conference this past September is any indication, the 25th International Montessori Congress will be an experience none of us should miss!

Report on the 56th Annual DPI/NGO Conference at the United Nations, Silvia C. Dubovoy
This year 70 years ago... Focus on important events of 1933, AMI
Changes to Blueprints, AMI
Question and Answer: Writing and Left-handedness, AMI

This issue's "Question and Answer' feature focuses on 'Writing and Left-handedness' and briefly outlines Montessori's ideas on the indirect and direct preparations for writing, and how she connects motor and intellectual activity.

Announcements, AMI

AMI Journal 2003/2-3

San Remo Lectures: 1 The Creative Capacity of Early Childhood, Maria Montessori

The 8th International Montessori Congress took place from 22-29 August, 1949. The title of the Congress was La Formazione dell’Uomo nella Ricostruzione Mondiale (Man’s Formation in World Reconstruction). The four major lectures that Maria Montessori delivered then have been retranslated by Renilde Montessori from the original Italian and are being featured in this and forthcoming issues of Communications. In her introduction to the first lecture Renilde Montessori writes: ‘If one’s thoughts tend to seek symbolism in nature, the four San Remo lectures can be seen as verdant hillocks at the foot of the august mountain that is the work of Maria Montessori.

The title of the first lecture is “The Creative Capacity of Early Childhood”. In it, as in the other three, as in all her teaching, throughout her life, she enjoins humanity, not only parents, educators and other specialists in care of children, to study the child.

Remembering... Anne Marie Gillet, Margaret Stephenson, Dea Vollgraff, Margot Waltuch, AMI
Report of the Annual General Meeting, AMI
Financial Report-2002, AMI