"Thank God for His free and simple gifts . . . These are life's real treasures; in them any man, however poor, is rich."
Art credit: Spring by Heinrich Vogeler
"A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them..."
Art credit: Maternal Admiration by Bouguereau
A little more from A Montessori Mother:
"...Human beings reach their highest development only when for the growth of their individuality they have the utmost possible liberty which can be granted them without interfering with the rights of others...
"Once again, for the thousandth time, people needed to be reminded that the reign of the tyrant who imposes laws on human souls from the outside (even though that tyrant intends nothing but the best for his subjects and be called 'teacher'), produces smothered rebellion, or apathy, or broken submissiveness, but never energetic, forward progress."
"This reverence for the child's personality, this supreme faith that liberty of action is not only safe to give children, but is the prerequisite of their growth, is the rock on which the edifice of her system is being raised....and, as for the amount of information acquired unconsciously and painlessly by those babies, it is one of the fairy-stories of modern times."
Art credit: Children Playing by Johann von Bremen
Sound familiar? From 'A Montessori Mother' by Dorothy Canfield Fisher:
"Look back over your own school-life and confess to yourself how utterly has vanished from your mind the information forced upon you in courses which did not arouse your interest.
"My own private example of that is a course on 'government.' I was an ordinarily intelligent and conscientious child, and I attended faithfully all the interminable dreary recitations of that subject, even filling a note-book with selections from the teacher's remarks, and, at the end of the course, passing a fairly creditable examination.
"The only proof I have of all this is the record of the examination and the presence of the notebook in my handwriting; for, among all the souvenirs of my school-life, there is not one faintest trace of any knowledge about the way in which people are governed. I cannot even remember that I ever did know anything about it. My mind is a perfect, absolute blank on the subject, although I can remember the look of the schoolroom in which I sat to hear the lectures on it, I can see the face of the teacher, I can recall the pictures on the wall, the very graining of the wood on my desk.
"There is no more recollection of the subject than if the lectures had been delivered in Hindustani. The long hours I spent in that classroom are as wholly wasted and lost out of my all-too-short life as though I had been thrust into a dark closet for those three hours a week. Even the amount of "discipline" I received, namely the capacity to sit still and endure almost intolerable ennui, would have been exactly as great in one case as in the other, and would have cost the State far less."
"THE PRE-REQUISITE OF ALL EDUCATION IS THE INTEREST OF THE STUDENT. He cannot learn at all, anything, if he is not interested. ..the filled note-books, the attended recitations, the passed examinations, ... represent the most hopelessly wasted hours of our youth."
"It is the business of the educator to furnish something which will interest them..."
Tend to the heart before you tend to the mind.
Art credit: Die Dorschule by Albert Anke
I've decided to take on a long-term project of recording Frederic Farrar's Life of Christ. This little section in Chapter 1, the story of Christ's birth, caught my attention:
"The inventions of man differ wholly from the dealings of God. In His designs there is no haste, no rest, no weariness, no discontinuity;
"all things are done by Him in the majesty of silence, and they are seen under a light that shineth quietly in the darkness, 'showing all things in the slow history of their ripening.'
"The unfathomable depths of the Divine counsels were moved; the fountains of the great deep were broken up; the healing of the nations was issuing forth;
"but nothing was seen on the surface of human society but the slight rippling of the water; the course of human things went on as usual, while each was taken up with little projects of his own.'"
Reminds me of the work we mothers are engaged in.
Art credit: Baby at Play by Thomas Eakins
A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
Art credit: The Nightingale by Edmund Dulac
I am often told I ask too much of mothers. Mothers just want to know what to do.
Evidently Maria Montessori had the same problem. In A Montessori Mother written by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, who was trying to explain to Americans what she saw in Montessori schools in Italy, I read this:
"...ideas, hopes and visions are as important elements in a comprehension of this new philosophy as an accurate knowledge of the use of [the methods], and my talks with Dr. Montessori lead me to think that she feels them to be much more essential.
"Contact with the new ideas is not doing for us what it ought, if it does not act as a powerful stimulant to the whole body of our thought about life. It should make us think, and think hard, not only about how to teach our children the alphabet more easily, but about such fundamental matters as what we actually mean by moral life; whether we really honestly wish the spiritually best for our children, or only the materially best; why we are really in the world at all.
"In many ways, this 'Montessori System' is a new religion which we are called upon to help bring into the world, and we cannot aid in so great an undertaking without considerable spiritual as well as intellectual travail.
"The only way for us to improve our children's lives by the application of these new ideas is by meditating on them until we have absorbed their very essence and then by making what varying applications of them are necessary in the differing condition of our lives. "
The work here at WEH is simply a continuation of and building upon ideas set forth by educators who came before us. The 'hope and vision' is far more essential than the specifics of 'how' to do it. We, too, are called upon to 'help bring' these new ideas into the world, and we 'cannot aid in so great an undertaking without considerable spiritual as well as intellectual travail."
If you don't take time to 'catch the vision' until you have absorbed 'their very essence', no instruction in methods will bring about the outcomes you hope to obtain: improving the lives of your children; helping them to live lives of maximum joy.
Art credit: Hide and Seek by von Bremen
This poem was posted several weeks ago by a member of our group. I copied it in my poem book because I love it so much and thought it is worth reposting in our month of Exploration. It is attributed to Sir Francis Drake in 1577.
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.
-Sir Francis Drake- 1577
Art credit: The Armada in Sight by John Seymour Lucas
The Well-Educated Mother's Heart