Guided by the Nature of Parents. In a sentence, what’s the one issue with parents that brought you here today. Turn to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. Tell them about a child you care deeply about. What are your hopes and dreams for that child?.
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We seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have them.
We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are.
A ‘paradigm shift’ is a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science. (Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
Have you ever met an adult who doesn't really love what they do, but just goes through the motions in their job and everyday life? Have you spoken with men and women who constantly complain, showing no visible passion for anything in the world? I'm sure that, like me, you have met those people.
I've also seen the making of these adults in schools across our country: students who are consistently being "prepared" for the next test, assessment, or grade level . . . only to find out after graduation that they don't really know what they are passionate about.
These are the same students who are never allowed to learn what they want in school. Forced down a curriculum path that we believe is "best for them," they discover it is a path that offers very little choice in subject matter and learning outcomes.
We spend 14,256 hours in school between kindergarten and graduation. If we can't find a time for students to have some choice in their learning, then what are we doing with all those hours?
What 20% time allows students to do is pick their own project and learning outcomes,[20% of the time] while still hitting all the standards and skills for their grade level.
“The first step an intending Montessori teacher must take is to prepare herself. For one thing, she must keep her imagination alive; for whilst, in traditional schools, the teacher sees the immediate behavior of her pupils… the Montessori teacher is constantly looking for a child who is not yet there….
She must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work.
She must free herself from all preconceived ideas concerning the levels at which the children may be. The many different types of children (meaning they are more or less deviated) must not worry her.
In her imagination she sees the single normalized type, which lives in a world of the spirit.”
“The first step an intending Montessori teacher must take is to prepare herself. For one thing, she must keep her imagination alive; for whilst, in traditional schools, the teacher sees the immediate behavior of parents… the Montessori teacher is constantly looking for a parent who is not yet there….
She must have a kind of faith that the parent will reveal himself through work.
She must free herself from all preconceived ideas. The many different types of parents (meaning they are more or less deviated) must not worry her.
I am determined. There’s nothing I can do about it.
I’m not responsible
Something outside me – limited time – is controlling me
Someone else’s behavior is limiting me
I’m not free to choose my actions
I am going to submit, that we can choose how we look at, what we expect from, how we relate to children AND parents
And, you can create environments conducive to change
Whether you call it parent outreach, parent partnerships or parent education, it’s about creating environments conducive to growth, development, self-discovery and transformation.
And that’s something we know quite a lot about.
Since it is also about putting them in a frame of mind receptive to a new paradigm, it will need to help them disconnect from their conscious thinking, judging, criticizing mind, and allow their intuitive creative self to emerge.
It will also need to be disarming, and help them set aside their anxieties and defenses
Make it experiential
Create opportunities for self-awareness and awareness of surroundings
Pay careful attention to creating an emotional climate that is welcoming and non-threatening.
Include elements of surprise, lightness and humor, story and song
Incite the imagination
Although they are in a different plane of development, adults still display the same human tendencies that we observe among the children in our Montessori classrooms.
That shouldn’t be too surprising since they may be older but they are still human, after all.
From the first, let’s be careful not to sell our Montessori programs to parents, but instead to inform them and then respect their choice.
Our job with prospective parents is to answer their questions in a way that describeswhat we do, fully and completely and unapologetically, but without selling.
Let’s respect the fact that although Montessori might be right for every child, it might not be right for every parent.
It’s the parents’ job to choose; it’s our job to make sure that their choice is a fully informed one.
Before their child is born and continuing through the first two years of life.
Beginning with their first observation as a prospective parent and lasts through their child’s first few months in a Montessori classroom.
How often do we forget this dictum when dealing with parents? Too often we stand with arms crossed, glaring at a parent who is late, or doing too much for a child, or behaving in some other way that offends our Montessori sensibilities.
Instead, we can let go of our inclination to correct and look for a later teachable moment.
In general, we are much more patient with the children in our care than with their parents, aren’t we?
Another human tendency is exploration, and we fully acknowledge the importance of it for children. And yet, how many of our events for parents are mostly lecture?
Ask rather than answer. If a child asks us a question, how do we respond?
After their first observation ask: What did you see? What were your impressions of the classroom?
After an activity or experience at a parent night, ask them what they learned from the experience
“A sense of calm overlay the busyness. There was this peaceful sense of order underneath all of the activity that was taking place in a communal way. There was a rhythm to the classroom that I’ve never seen before. It was like a beautifully orchestrated dance.”
At New Parent Orientation. By the time they finish sharing, they feel confirmed in their choice, and their minds are open to receive information.
At the beginning of a parent evening on mathematics, I might ask each parent to talk briefly about their own experiences with math as a child.
Helps parents combat the pressure they feel from friends, relatives and neighbors to conform
Parents will believe one another much more readily than they will believe us, and in this way they support one another’s decision.
Parent event focused on particular groups
There’s no one-size-fits-all way of reaching out to them. I never feel that just because I wrote a good article for the newsletter that my work is done.
Parents expect a higher level of individual consideration from a Montessori school than from any other institution with which they interact.
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They are either speaking, or preparing to speak.
Understanding a parent’s situation and point of view first puts us in a better position to communicate effectively and with relevance.
Once a person feels understood, he or she is much more likely to let go of preconceptions and be open to new ideas.
I believe that giving wings to our children and to others means empowering them with the freedom to rise above negative scripting that had been passed down to us.
I believe it means becoming… a transition person. Instead of transferring those scripts to the next generation, we can change them
In a very profound sense, we ARE transition people.
Let’s help each parent become a transition person too