Featured Column: The Silent Journey

September 23, 2014

Immersed in a Montessori setting during the day, in some cases children come home from school and speak a language not always accessible to parents. They mention the names of materials they use that sound nothing like the materials we used while growing up in regular schools. They speak of metal insets, number rods, rough and smooth boards, checkerboards and perhaps, racks and tubes. Often when asked, the children cannot explain the purpose of these materials, especially the younger ones, whose development is focused on absorbing and not sharing, and in many cases not understanding the true nature of the activity until many repetitions.

As years of Montessori education have flown by, many schools have chosen to close this gap in understanding and meaning by providing parents with a facsimile of what their children experience. The Montessori Journey is a means of providing just such an opportunity. The goal of the journey is to see, through the eyes of the children, the activities that engage them in all classes, and that lead to learning. We hope that participating parents experience a sense of concentration through self-chosen work, as it is the goal of Montessori to help children achieve a state of concentration through their work. Experiencing this state transforms children into diligent workers capable of learning practically anything.

The silent part of the journey is emphasized so as to drive the experience inward. To discourage conversation, we, the program facilitators, will be placing friends and relatives in separate groups. Naturally, our teachers will be present to answer questions and even make some helpful suggestions, but they will be committed to helping participants make this their own special experience.  Teachers will guide participants into making work choices based on what attracts them or stimulates their curiosity. Perhaps there are some materials that children have mentioned at home and as parents, you have always wondered about their purpose.  Now, you finally get to work with these manipulatives on your own, your concentration and focus nurtured and safeguarded by the others also engaging in silence. That same focus and concentration will be exhibited as we experience the work provided in each level of our school, from Toddler through Middle School.

Moving from class to class, program to program, we also hope that participants experience how the environments change to suit the needs of the child in that particular developmental stage. Maria Montessori realized as early as 1913 that there was a need for fundamental shifts in approach as children develop. The classes we prepare at CMS are based on this realization and the materials she developed reflect the growth of children in knowledge and process from one stage to another.

After the Middle School session, participants will gather to discuss, reflect and share their experiences. We will be asking you two questions at completion:

What was the experience like for you?

Where do we go from here? What else would you prefer to see or learn about the Montessori approach to providing education as a help to life?

This Saturday morning, September 27, parents will gather at the Toddler-Primary building at 9am for a brief introduction to the Journey.  Participants will be divided into three groups and guided in the discovery from level to level until we have visited all the programs in the three buildings.

We hope you will join us and become a part of this tradition, which we share with Montessori schools all over the world.

Let the Journey begin.

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