April 5, 2019
“Do not erase the designs the child makes in the soft wax of his inner life.”
- Maria Montessori
“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”
― Parker J. Palmer
Middle Schoolers are about to embark on their last book for the year. Ms. McCarty has assigned the students to read a biography of their choosing (approved by Ms. McCarty first) and then present it to the rest of their classmates. The objective? Besides a required academic piece, it serves our own Montessori purpose by exploring the “seeds” that were planted early in the lives of these noted individuals. As part of the requirement, our MSA middle schoolers will be not only writing up a book report but creating a presentation that must entice their classmates to pick up the same biography and read it for themselves.
Every single one of us have had those “seeds” of interest planted from a very early age. But in a Montessori environment those seeds tend to be fertilized even more. There is opportunity for individual “breadth and depth” and a certain degree of unscheduled time inherent in a Montessori program. Because of those Montessori values, those seeds can grow a more solid root system. The student has time to listen to what life is telling him about who he is.
MSA students can potentially be engaged in “joyful scholarship” throughout their years from infancy to high school. Yes, there is a “common core” of information that is absorbed along the way. That common core (or Renaissance education) is a bit like scaffolding or hooks on an exciting wall. But what gets connected to those hooks is the impulse to dive deeper and broader into specific ideas, leanings, passions. It is this passion that a Montessori education wishes to awaken and nourish along the way into higher education and adulthood. Sometimes it may take many years into adulthood before that passion is recognized.
Each biography has a certain degree of passion sewn into the fabric of that person’s life, before that “soft wax” became a solid form. Good reading middle schoolers – read on with open eyes and hearts.