Montessori Matters

January 24, 2020

Tech, Tots, and Teens Part II: WWMS

There is an expression we use around campus when we encounter questions about integrating new curriculum or ideas into our Montessori classrooms. It goes like this: WWMS – borrowed from the movement of WWJD, What Would Jesus Do.

The WWMS has to do with asking: What Would Maria Say? If we were to re-incarnate Maria to 2020 and plunked her down in an average American household or classroom, with ages 2 – 16, what would she be hearing/observing? What would she possibly understand way beyond the obvious attractions of these technological wonders? Would she still say: “Follow the child” even if his interests may cut him off from much of the world.

Yes, indeed children are different IN WHAT IS AVAILABLE TO THEM as far as what captivates them, fascinates them. But their human nature is still the same. They LOVE TO BE ENGAGED AND ABSORBED. The Absorbent Mind (one of her best books) is still the same.

The concept of “mindfulness,” or Montessori’s three cares: care for the environment, care for others, and care for self, are still relevant to all levels of education and life.

When the three-year-old child is taught how to pour water from one tiny pitcher into another, it is with precise movements fully mindful of the fact that if he doesn’t put the glass pitcher back on the tray and away from the edge of the table, it could easily fall and break. “Care for the environment” means taking care of physical things and if a mistake is made, what to do to clean it up.

When a child uses her “indoor voice” or is allowed time in her day to work with another child on some Montessori math, she is being encouraged to “care for others.”

When the teenager decides himself to set aside a two-hour block of time for his big physics test coming up, he is “caring for himself.” When he is given time to breathe deeply and settle his mind before taking that big test, he is being encouraged to “care for self.”

I wonder … I wonder if Maria would say: “As long as these new materials still allow for care of the environment, care for others, and care for self - then perhaps they can be another tool used with respect for the 2020 ‘followed child.’”

Translated for our high tech world:

Care for the environment – as long as I make my bed in the morning, set the dinner table, pick up my room on Saturday, technology may be just another tool.

Care for others: if time is monitored so that there is still time for family games, discussions, time for friends outdoors, visits to grandparents, it may be another tool.

Care for self – as long as time is monitored so that there is still time to read a good book in a quiet corner, climb a tree, watch a nest of newborn birds, find just the right rock for a collection, build the model airplane, try the new recipe, etc., it may be another tool.

Bottom line – as my mother used to say: “Everything in moderation” Or as Maria would understand – technology may have its place – in the older levels of a Montessori school and at home.

But if one loses any one of the three cares: neglects chores, homework, abuses the technology (care of the environment); neglects friends and family members by spending too much with technology (care of others); or neglects eating a healthy meal with the family, a world of nature, quiet and creative time, a spiritual practice (care of self), then technology becomes a liability.

So, I think, Maria would say: “If you are following the child and today’s child really enjoys this new learning tool, keep it. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Just remember some key words: moderation, limits, and above all ‘the three cares.’”

Dates to Remember

Remember that you can always check the MSA website calendar for upcoming calendar events.

January 28 - Food, Family, and Philosophy event on campus at 5:30 PM

February 6 - High School internships

February 6 - Spring Benefit Meeting at 5:30 PM

February 13-19 - Scholastic Book Fair

February 17 - President's Day, no school, extended day only

April 25 - Escape to Kokomo - Spring Benefit & Auction

Family, Food, and Philosophy

We hope you can join us for our Family, Food, and Philosophy night! Please come and bring your friends for an evening of information about your child's Planes of Development along with pizza dinner and child care for potty-trained MSA students ages 3 and up. New families that attend the event will have their application fees waived! For more information and to RSVP for the event so we can plan our pizza order, please use this form.
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Yearbook Prices Increase Next Week!

Yearbook prices will go up at the end of next week, so this is your last chance to take advantage of the lowest price of the year! Be sure to preserve the memories for your student by purchasing their 2019-2020 yearbook today! Visit this link to purchase a yearbook online now or stop by the office to fill out a paper order form today. Next Friday is also the last day to purchase a personalized yearbook!
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Visit Up Day

Rising students across campus got the chance to visit their future classrooms and meet their new teachers and spend time with future classmates. They participated in classroom discussions and fun activities like dissecting cow eyeballs, baking desserts, solving a "breakout" puzzle involving saving important documents from US history, and searching for similarities in triangles described by sides and angles. See this album for more photos from Visit Up Day.
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SCISA Math Meet

Five of our High School students traveled to Sumter Tuesday to compete against other teams in the South Carolina Independent School Association in a math competition. They did a great job representing MSA!
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Upper Elementary students surprised Ms. Holt with a custom-made t-shirt. The students customized a character from one of their favorite Junior Great Book stories that she read with them called, "The Invisible Child." They personalized the Moomin character for her, naming it Moominholt.
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Students in Mrs. Presgraves' Anatomy and Physiology class dissected pig kidneys that had been dyed to show the incredible network of blood vessels needed to filter blood.
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First Harvest

Third grade students in Lower Elementary harvested the first crops of the season Tuesday as they learned how to harvest the leafy greens of lettuce while leaving the crop in place to grow and continue producing for another three months. The second graders then washed and prepared the lettuce, and the Middle School students used it to make their Wednesday community lunch. See this album for more photos.
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Annie Music Practice

The students have been working hard to memorize lines and songs. This week, they've been practicing those songs together after school.
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Capture the Cones

In order to keep moving in the cold weather, students in PE spent Wednesday playing Capture the Cones. The game develops students' skills in strategy and teamwork while providing an engaging exercise opportunity. See this album for more photos from Capture the Cones.
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Meet the Teacher: Debbie Culwell, High School Art


Hello, my name is Debbie Culwell, and I teach high school art here at the Montessori School of Anderson. My extended family is from the Anderson/Belton area but my father was in the Air Force so I have lived many other places, including Germany and Florida, where I met my husband at the school bus stop in front of my house. Yes, I married my high school sweetheart! We have lived in Anderson for almost 25 years while raising our son, Johnny, who graduated from MSA in 2012. We have just recently adopted an 80-pound rough collie named Sonny. He’s a big boy but a good one.


I graduated from University of SC with a degree in Art History and a minor in Studio Art.

I later earned a Masters of Art in Teaching (MAT) with an Arts Concentration (K-12 certified) from Lander University and have been teaching for 20 years – 19 of those here at MSA.

I continue to study with professional artists who work in a variety of media and styles in order to keep learning and stay fresh as an artist and teacher. Most recently, I have attended workshops with JoAnne Anderson, Alice Ballard, Carrie Brown, Jane Todd Butcher, Tom Dimond, and Skip Lawrence, to name a few.


One of the most important goals I have for my students is to have them develop the art of “seeing.” For someone to see the world through the eyes of an artist not only connects them to their physical world but enriches theirs lives and creativity as well. “Seeing” means not only using their sense of sight, but all of their senses.

One way I accomplish this is by having them draw from life versus using an image or a tablet & stylus. I remember going to an art educators’ seminar back when the first drawing tablets came out and someone was demonstrating with one – extolling its ability to mimic a real drawing. But, after I tried it myself, it left me feeling cheated out of the real experience – where was the smell and sound of the graphite as it moved across the paper? Where were the eraser shavings? Plus I couldn’t actually touch the drawing behind the screen.

One of MY FAVORITE BOOKS is Frederick Frank’s The Zen of Seeing, and one of my favorite quotes in it is,

“We do a lot of looking; we look through lenses, telescopes, television tubes … Our looking is perfected every day – but we see less and less.”

What is MY FAVORITE COLOR ? You would think from my wardrobe the answer is black, but the correct answer is, I just can’t choose one! I do, however, love the effect that happens when a pure color is placed next to a muted one.

Spring Benefit and Auction

Mark your calendars and purchase your tickets for the Spring Benefit and Auction on April 25! The event is always a great time, and proceeds from the event support our tuition assistance program as our biggest fundraiser of the year. We hope to see you there!
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Montessori School of Anderson

Our mission is to nurture the whole child, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, preparing students for academic excellence, lifelong learning and responsible, caring lives.