Education and Home

Give the child a vision of the whole universe

A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven - The Philippine Star

Let us give the child a vision of the whole Universe… this imposing reality and answer to all questions. “We shall walk together in this path of life, for all things are a part of the Universe… This idea focuses the child’s mind so that he ceases his aimless quest for knowledge.”

I can imagine your exasperation as a parent or teacher saying, “Oh that’s nice and inspiring but how do I bring the universe into my home or classroom!”

Puzzle map of the world and the child’s continent

At three years of age, he can “put the world” together in an eight-piece puzzle. (Threes can even work on 18 pieces). Cut into halves, the whole world can be presented in two hemispheres, with North and South America on one sphere and Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia on the other. The North and South Poles cap each hemisphere on the top and bottom. In between are the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, Antarctica and Arctic oceans.

From this map fours and fives can easily shift to a puzzle of Asia – a work of joy since the largest countries, namely Russia, China (Mongolia in between the first two) and India cut across the continent. To the left are the Middle Eastern countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Emirates. The two Pakistans sandwich India and Sri Lanka at the bottom. To the right are the Far East countries, with the Philippines (the “pearl of the Pacific”) centrally located. Above her are Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. To her left are Burma, Thailand, the former French Indochinese states of Laos, Vietnam and Kampuchea, Malaysia and Singapore. Below the Philippines are Borneo and Indonesia. When the child reaches first grade, his mind is ready for the Philippine map.

Geography and historyfor very young children

Geography and History are not difficult if you understand how children learn. From ages three to ten children are eager students. Beyond this, puberty sets in, the hormones pump the body and emotions stir the child’s interest elsewhere. The student becomes introverted, self-conscious and absentminded.

Traditional Geography starts by memorizing the Philippines’ 50 or so provinces in Grade IV. This is shocking and tiresome if the child had no earlier idea of his land. It is more natural for him to see the world as a whole, then focus on his continent before studying his country.

Undue emphasis on memory tires the child – the cosmic organization

The kindergarten child is an active explorer, and always mobile. The grade schooler is activated by reasoning power. It is important to feed his intelligence. His interest is more universal than insular. His “inner teacher” can appreciate a good TV show or a handsome picture book showing people from all over the world. Only a Cosmic Curriculum can satisfy him. He can easily understand that Man is the center of God’s Creation. In fact, God first created the world’s plants, animals and minerals before creating man. But God willed that man can only survive if he looks after the Plant, Animal and Mineral Kingdoms, an integrated study of Botany, Zoology and Physics.

The seven to 12-year-olds’ drive is starved by under emphasis on memory. The conventional school tiresomely asks “what” instead of “why,” “how,” “compare” or “analyze.” If the grade schooler gets used to such simplistic one word answers such as True or False, Fill in the Blanks or Underline the Correct Word, this nation will never learn to think, argue or object in her quest for truth and justice.

Unless the child learns the full Tree of Knowledge instead of its branches organized in water light compartments called “subjects,” he will be crippled mentally. Life is a systematic body of knowledge. Human body for example is taught traditionally by committing to memorize the different organs, but taught as part of the Montessori Cosmic Curriculum, the child learns that these are the muscular, skeletal, digestive, reproductive, purification and respiratory systems. Each system is made up of organs; each organ, specific tissues and each tissue, cells.

At this time “the child’s mind sees a group of facts related together, experiences satisfaction, an inner harmony, the deep joy, which attends the right use of a faculty…” Emerson once said.

When a child perceives the cycle of life from the plants that feed the animals, whose waste re-energizes the earth, which in turn anchors all botanical life – and recognizes his responsibility to maintain this equilibrium, then he will attain maturity.

This is what Montessori calls insieme di conoscenza “a number of things known together.” It compares the child at this stage to a fertile field ready to receive what will germinate into culture, Froebel refers to it as a logical whole, and its parts are related by the “bonds of reason.” This group of related facts does not end within itself but is stimuli for further research.

If you were to ask how many such seeds should be sown at this stage of development, the great philosophers and psychologists would answer, “As many as possible.”

The journey of discovery of the child

Now that we are in the Millennium Age, we have taken the golden opportunity of celebrating the “Discovery of the Child” within the century by reviewing the activities of the Montessori Basic Education. Two school years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 cover the 50th and golden anniversary of Operation Brotherhood Montessori schools. The miraculous manifestation of the “new children” and “new teacher” is revealed by the exposure to the O.B. Montessori Cosmic Curriculum:

Amazing 3’s, 4’s and 5’s (Preschoolers at Work). Watch the secrets of childhood with a three-year-old sweeping six times repeatedly, laundering in 13 steps or putting together the 23 puzzle pieces of Asia. See how they work with concentration and quiet joy.

Grade Schoolers and the ‘Cosmic Curriculum.’ The powerful reasoning mind of seven to 12-year-olds can only be satisfied by the Cosmic Curriculum. With a Grade I child study the “Four Blankets of the Earth” using the picture cards of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. The Grade 2 child can work on the Economic Geography of the Philippines by placing mini-rice sacks over the Central Luzon provinces and pinpointing sites of geothermal, seaport or electric dams on the map with mini picture cubes. Join the fifth graders do the anatomy study of an aves (birds), pisces (fish), or an amphibian (frog) using scalpel, forceps, dissecting scissors kit available at Medical Center Trading Corp. for P350. They learn dressing a chicken in Agriculture where they keep a small poultry.

The Brotherhood of Scouts - Enjoy the Scouting Adventure! Dr. Montessori recommends teachers and parents how to “let go” of the children. The worldwide movement of the boy and girl scouts allows the children to explore the walls beyond their classrooms. Montessori points how ideal Scouting is the ideal education program for preparing to explore the wider world. The grade schoolers are taught how to pitch a tent, build a fire, cook a meal, etc. in a camping resort.

“I Am The Good Shepherd” – This religion curriculum is ideal for all grade schools, which allow enrollment of children of different faiths. Instead of the Crucifix, which always scares children, Dr. Montessori thought that the Gentle Shepherd who is willing to give His life for his flock is more joyful and spiritual preparation. The children do a role playing of the Sacrament of Baptism, acting out the roles of priest, parent and godparents.

The Pocket Gardener – This is applied Botany and Zoology. Grades 4 and 5 students make dish gardens and propagate ornamental plants with cuttings, seedlings, marcottings. This also includes pet care.

The New Entrepreneurs (High School Exhibits). The O.B. Montessori Professional High School is proud of its four continuing projects: the multi-awarded platoons of CAT officers drawn from all levels of high school. Instead of the usual CAT training of soldiers, this is a training of officers, Laws on Persons concerning the rights and obligations of man from birth to death. Basic Accounting and European languages complement the Food Business projects.

The December La Cucina de Dottoressa – Do you want to start a small business? Visit the “minimart” of high school and college entrepreneurs in the café as they prepare since June the processed fruits, vegetables and meats at very low prices. Treat yourself to delicious Italian, Thai and Filipino dishes at the ground floor of the Greenhills headquarters. The Café Lycee Jasmin is a student-run cafeteria that serves 150 to 200 customers per day. See the two kitchens where they prepare lunch and snacks as well as food preserves.

The Montessori Teacher Formation Course at a Glance. The only Montessori Teacher Training education course in the world that guarantees the competence of a teacher to “normalize” children. Several so-called Montessori Teacher Training course are offered in the world but the unique psychological process to transform a dependent, timid, quarrelsome and disorderly child via work in the “prepared environment” for work (not play) is not taught since many such institutions do not have any Montessori school from preschool to high school.

The great seduction

The discovery of the new world within the “new teacher” and the “new children” always touched Dr. Montessori at the conclusion of the teacher training courses she conducted way back in the ‘30s to the ‘50s. In thanking the new graduates, she was moved to say, “You and I are pilgrims towards an idea. I voyage and you voyage to work for the triumph of the child… You and I have been seduced by something attractive and deep in the child. Not only in those creatures whom we all love – but, one who holds a secret we can never fathom and one, which will therefore always attract us.

“We began by protecting the child and now we realize that it is we who need protecting. We are drawn towards the child, as individuals, as members of society and for the good of the human race as a whole.”

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