September 13, 2019
Passion for Excellence
Over the next four weeks, we will be looking at MSA’s four pillars. Are they just nice words, how does the Montessori philosophy complement them, are they relevant to this 21st century world?
Passion for Excellence
Service to Humanity
Starting with Passion for Excellence, how does a Montessori classroom implement this idea into its day-to-day curriculum and goals?
I am the first to admit: it is not easy to have an image of what excellence is in this fast-paced, superficial world of emojis, text messages, media sound bites, and “get the kids into the best colleges – no matter what!” (Reflect for a moment on the Felicity Huffman scandal!)
Montessori involves immersing the children in a culture of “awareness” all the way to Middle School without the superficial stamp of grades, report cards, constant tests, etc. Once MSA students enter Middle School grades are introduced slowly and not with all learning.
So, what motivates a three-year-old to do “excellent” work? The answer is in the giftedness of the Montessori-trained teacher. The work/exercises have been modeled by those who do them with excellence and they are repeated by the children without any coercion or gold stars, grades, or even praise. The children have observed EXCELLENCE without much fanfare. It is so interesting that in Montessori training, we are taught to give lessons without using a lot of words. Words detract from the “modeling” that takes place when the child’s full attention is on following the hands of his directress. When it is his turn, the movements and care, wiping off the tiniest droplet of water from a pouring exercise to turning the tray around for his next turn, becomes the beauty and joy of a work accomplished with grace. The teachers don’t praise. They don’t need to. The beauty of a difficult work accomplished is the “pièce de résistance.”
Picture this concept happening throughout the day, with many lessons practiced over and over until the child’s own sense of completion is felt. Now multiply that through all areas of practical life, sensorial, math, language, culture year after year until Middle School. One of my favorite quotes from a high schooler came when she said, with sadness: “I miss the days when I used to work just for the fun of it. Now, I have to work for the grades and to get into a good college.”
Admittedly, it can disappear for the moment in a super-busy Montessori teenager world, but it will come back, I assure you. The rest of us, traditionally educated, have real moments of that awareness when presenting the “perfect” argument for a new project, building that “perfect” playhouse for your child or baking the “perfect” five-layer cake for the family. You step back, before the hands start clapping or the praise and thanks start coming, and realize your own “passion for excellence” is enough.
- Karen Holt
Dates to Remember
September 16-27 - MAP Growth testing (grades 2-9)
September 19 - Toddler Two Covered Dish Dinner
September 21 - International Day of Peace
September 26 - Toddler Three Covered Dish Dinner
October 8 - Family, Food, and Philosophy event
October 11 - Early dismissal for professional development, no extended care
October 14-18 - Fall Break, extended day available
Immunization deadline this week
All students must have a South Carolina DHEC immunization record on file in the MSA Health Office within 30 days of admission or the first day of school. If you are a transfer student from out of state or country, all immunization records must be transferred to a SC DHEC Form at your physician's office or a South Carolina Health Department. If the student has received any additional immunizations in the last year, a new record must be submitted to MSA. Any student not in compliance with South Carolina's Immunization mandated guidelines must be excluded until a immunization record has been received. Please make every effort to meet this deadline so there is no interruption in your child's educational experience.
Thank you advance for your cooperation.
Susanna Merriman, RN