Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

…Continued from Monday, September 18th…

 

Although her methods were criticized for being too detached, rigorous, and even harsh for children, they did seem to facilitate a more genuine, natural experience. She was often heard saying, “I studied my children, and they taught me how to teach them.” This may seem common for us to do today, but Montessori was the first to view education in this manner.

Montessori pioneered other modern educational practices including a system of math learning materials for very young children that allowed four and five year olds to explore their interests where heretofore they had been considered to be too young. “To deny them (the children) the right to learn because we, as adults think that they shouldn’t is illogical and typical of the way schools have been run,” she said at the time.

She was also the first in education to have child-sized tables and chairs made for the students. And she created the Game of Silence, somewhat like meditation, where each child was able to start the day with a sense of peace and focus. She believed that the learning environment was just as important as the learning itself.

Her methods completely contradicted the educational theories and practice popular during her day when it was not common to treat children with such a high level of respect. Back then society felt that children should be seen and not heard. But she saw her children as they really were and heard their cries for true education. One day one of her teachers was late and the students actually crawled through the window and got right to work. According to her, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher. is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’”

Word of the success of her methods spread and won her international recognition as an educational reformer, Dr. Montessori devoted all of her time and energy for the next 40 years to traveling all over the world, lecturing, writing and establishing training programs. She developed schools throughout Europe and North America and then spent nearly two decades in living in India and Sri Lanka where she trained thousands of teachers the Montessori curriculum and methodology. In her later years, Educate for Peace became a guiding principle, which underpinned her work.

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.

Queen Maria Montessori died in the Netherlands in 1952, after a lifetime devoted to the study of child development. Her early work centered on women’s rights and social reform and evolved to encompass a totally innovative approach to education. Hers truly was a vision, proven in practice where no child was left behind.

If an educational act is to be efficacious, it will be only that one which tends to help toward the complete unfolding of life. To be thus helpful it is necessary rigorously to avoid the arrest of spontaneous movements and the imposition of arbitrary tasks.

 

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

September marks the beginning of the school year. And even if we have not attended classes in ages, we are still affected through our children and grand kids, as well as our own memories.

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Dr. Maria Montessori was born in the provincial town of Ancona, Italy in1870, the same year that it became a unified, free nation. The energy of that confluence permeated her personality, resulting in a free and unified person who, defied the traditionally dictated roles and relationships between male and female, teacher and student. From a very early age she operated her life as though she could and would effect it

The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth. From this almost mystic affirmation there comes what may seem a strange conclusion: that education must start from birth.

When she was five, Maria’s family moved to the more cosmopolitan and sophisticated Rome so that she could be exposed to culture and enjoy a better education. At 13 she entered a technical school to study engineering, only to discover that she did not wish to continue on this path. Her family was relieved that she rejected such a masculine study.

Instead, she pursued the study of medicine and became the first woman doctor in Italy. She graduated in 1896 with a score of 100 out of a possible 105. Her diploma had to altered to note her gender.

Immediately after her graduation, heR life took off like a meteor. She was immediately chosen to represent Italy in a Women’s international congress in Berlin. On return she was appointed to be the surgical assistant at Santo Spirito. She was also working at the Children’s hospital and had a private practice.

In 1897 Montessori had a revelation. “I felt that mental deficiency presented chiefly a pedagogical, rather than mainly a medical, problem.” The children she was working with could not be treated in the hospitals. They needed to be trained in schools. Given her new insight she began to transfer her time towards perfecting education in order to meet the real needs of children.

She developed an educational theory, which combined ideas from medicine, education and anthropology. In 1900 she began to direct a small school in Rome for ‘challenged’ youth. There she employed methods that were both experimental and miraculous. “We should really find the way to teach the child how, before, before making him execute a task.”

By 1907 Montessori began to assert the theories and methods of pedagogy that she had been developing. She began by directing a system of daycare centers for working class children in one of Rome’s worst neighborhoods.

The children entered her program as “wild and unruly”. Much to her surprise they began to respond to her teaching methods. She always held them in the highest regard and taught her teachers to do likewise. From the beginning amazing things happened. Children younger than three and four years old began to read, write, and initiate self-respect.

The Montessori method encouraged what Maria saw as the children’s innate ability to ‘absorb’ culture. In her book, The Absorbent Mind. she wrote, “And then we saw them ‘absorb’ far more than reading and writhing…it was botany, zoology, mathematics, geography, and all with the same ease, spontaneously, and with out getting tired.”

 

…To be continued on Wednesday, September 20th…
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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

September marks the beginning of the school year. And even if we have not attended classes in ages, we are still affected through our children and grand kids, as well as our own memories. 

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Who doesn’t send off children anywhere without a pit in their stomachs?
By Iris Ruth Pastor

 

continued from Part 1, posted on Wednesday, September 13th…

 

Parents routinely ask college campus student affair administrators if their children will be safe walking home from the library late at night. What about the dangerous risks of binge drinking? Depression? Date-rape? Families who gave Irena Sendler their children only asked one question: What guarantee can you give us of our child’s safety? Irena’s answer: “I can promise you nothing, but that I will risk my life today trying.” Babies were tranquilized and stored in toolboxes under bricks in flatbed trucks leaving the ghetto, bound for a “safe” house. Older children were re-clothed and instructed to completely shed their past and internalize the information on the falsified documents they were handed.

I always worried that my kids, who had always approached studying and homework with underwhelming rigor, would feel overwhelmed their first semester at a university. My husband felt they could handle a full and demanding 17-18 hour course load. I argued for less, to spare them undue stress and ease their fears of “flunking out.” Parents living in the ghetto hoped to spare their kids stress too – only their stress was based on keeping their children from selections that led to deportation on trains headed for the death camps. Wealthy families who had managed to smuggle money with them paid as high as $15,000 per work permit for older children – who then had the “privilege” of toiling 17-18 hours per DAY in hard labor.

Of course, the Jews in the ghetto didn’t have to worry if their kids had the “right” wardrobe essentials for their leave taking: sports jerseys and caps with university logo, towel wraps, snow boots, backpack, texting gloves, fleece vests. Jews in the ghetto wore patched, ragged clothing with the Star of David for identification. No option dressing. Authorities warned that severe punishment – up to and including death by shooting – was in store for Jews who did not conform and wear the badge.

So even with keeping things “in perspective,” what can we do when:

  • Calls come about difficult roommates?
  • Calls come about a disappointingly low test grade?
  • Calls come about a run-in with a professor?
  • Calls come about a disappointing social-life?

What three actions can modern parents take to help their kids successfully thrive when away from the nest?

#1 We can act as our child’s coach, not rescuer.

#2 We can encourage them to take charge of their own experience – to seek out ways to solve their own problems using the resources available.

#3 We can praise them for their efforts to make the best of their situation and work to the best of their ability.

Yes, there are great perils “out there” now in 2017. And equipping our children to cope with our 21st Century reality is essential. But let’s keep in mind how lucky we are to have these concerns and not the ones the parents in the Warsaw ghetto faced during Hitler’s relentless reign of terror. Let’s hold sacred our good fortune.

Copyright © 2017 Iris Ruth Pastor, Writer and Speaker, All rights reserved.

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

September marks the beginning of the school year. And even if we have not attended classes in ages, we are still affected through our children and grand kids, as well as our own memories. 

***

Who doesn’t send off children anywhere without a pit in their stomachs?
By Iris Ruth Pastor

Whether it’s college, summer camp, or kindergarten? Is it really going to happen? Have we done all we could to prepare them for leaving the nest? Are they well equipped and knowledgeable about the challenges they will encounter? These concerns are legit.

Now it’s that time of year again when parents across the country will be sending their precious children off to their freshman year of college. And there are new concerns. I remember sending my each of my five sons off to a university years ago – concerned about tuition and room/board funding issues. Fretting about no longer being in control and in charge. Obsessing about if the college they ultimately chose was the “right” one. Fearing they would be lost in the wave of other entering freshman and neglected and overlooked.

Amidst my reminiscing, I began reading the book Irena’s Children, the story of a courageous woman during World War 2, smuggling thousands of children trapped in the Warsaw ghetto past the Nazis – to safe houses, orphanages and convents.

On the eve of my sons leaving home for college, I worried incessantly that the meal plans offered through the dorms were carb-laden and unhealthy. And that my children would pack on the dreaded “freshman fifteen.” Parents of children in the Warsaw ghetto worried over food too, but didn’t have the luxury of worrying about excessive carbs and healthy food choices. Official rations allotted to Jews in the walled-off area were 184 calories per day per person. If lucky and/or wealthy, food was available through the black market at exorbitant prices. And great risk.

Would my kiddies be safe on campus? Get a bid to the fraternity of their choice? Survive Hell Week? In the spring of 1942, 2000 Jewish children had begun living separately from their parents too – but not by choice. They too had new living arrangements and new challenges. Alone on the streets of the Aryan side of Warsaw, young Jewish men hiding outside the ghetto were in constant danger. Thugs and black mailers sadistically and randomly stopped young teenage boys and ordered them to reveal their penises for inspection. Circumcision was an instant death sentence. They had no “choices.” Every day was “Hell Week” for them.

A high school guidance counselor once told me acceptance to college called for a parent’s quick trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond for quilts, bedding sets and extra shelving. And to the Apple Store for a laptop computer, iPad and iPhone – all of which parents hoped their kids would utilize fully to keep in touch. Parents who made the agonizing decision to have their children smuggled out of the ghetto had no time to prepare their children for the rigors they would face. Their last parting message to their kids was not to keep in touch – that was far too dangerous. The most common  parting message from parents to children before turning them over to Irena and her cohorts was to urgently remind them “to wear the best disguise of all: happy faces.” Their goal for their sons and daughters was not a diploma, but survival and to somehow be reunited with their families when the nightmare ended. Few were.

Copyright © 2017 Iris Ruth Pastor, Writer and Speaker, All rights reserved.

To be continued… Part 2 will post on Friday, September 15th…

 

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.