Since it has been … necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions…. All things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. The idea helps the mind of the child to become focused, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied having found the universal centre of himself with all things.
– Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential
Originally, the post I had planned for today was how to celebrate feasts and festivals without appropriating culture. That still may come. But I woke up this morning to the news of (yet another) mass shooting and, as a good friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, for the fifth time in my life saw headlines declaring it the deadliest mass shooting in modern history. And I wept.
As I’ve been thinking about this “sweet spot” where Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia meet, I’ve been trying to pull out where exactly those intersectionalities occur. This is, undoubtedly, a partial list, but it’s what I am able to come up with in the noisy lobby of my kids’ arts school.
- The aesthetic. Let’s face it, this is the first thing people tend to notice about all three of these “lifestyles” (if there is such a thing). Natural materials, muted colors, an ethereal glow. Toys are often handmade with love and knowledge of the child and are imbued with meaning. Toys tend are beautiful, open-ended, and multi-purpose.
Last week’s internet outage means I’m playing catch up with posting the rest of last week’s apple posts today.
Apple week has been the perfect opportunity to keep apples out for a healthy snack– I meant for us to make crock pot applesauce as well, but sadly, that will have to be non-thematic and wait for another week– and also introduce the children to using the apple slicer. Daniel is in a public magnet Montessori school this year, and I am hoping that eventually the twins will be as well. I’ve always had a deep admiration for Maria Montessori and her work, and will be introducing the twins to some of her lessons when appropriate. This one was easy as pie.
We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. ~Maria Montessori
This year I have six children in three different schools. The oldest three are all at the local public arts magnet, one as a vocal major in the middle school, one as a vocal major in the high school, and one is a senior (!!!!) cellist in the instrumental department. The two youngest are at a local public charter school that has a strong arts focus. While I am not crazy about charter schools, I also struggled because our local neighborhood school has become progressively more and more focused on state testing and punitive discipline than actual education. I was happy to have the twins out of it, but was worried because Daniel had two more years there.
Don’t click out. I know what you’re thinking—Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers do NOT teach their toddlers the alphabet. Uh uh. No way. No how. No chance.
Let me back track for a second.
One of the things I love most about being a homeschooler is that I can be as eclectic as I want to be. Waldorf is my first love. It speaks to my heart like no other method. But I like to borrow from other approaches as well. I love the methodical organization of Montessori. I love the cycles and rhythms of the Classical Curriculum. And thanks to a series of posts over at Fairy Dust Teaching, I’ve been falling back in love with the beauty and project-based approach favored by the Reggio Emilia method.
OK, it may seem funny for the self-professed Waldorf-inspired mama to be celebrating Maria Montessori’s birthday, but there is just so much I love about this gentle Christian early childhood educator! And I have my own theory about big-T Truth. I think we all are born with an innate desire to draw nearer to God. It’s that part of us that strives for Truth and Beauty and Justice and Mercy and yes, even Joy! And some of us might have a different name for it or not even know what it is that’s calling us towards that which is right and good, but it’s Truth-with-a-capital-T. I think Steiner got some good glimpses of this Truth, and even though I disagree with some (many) of his conclusions, I do believe he was being courted by God and called into the light of His presence. And Maria Montessori? She was a woman who just shone with Truth.
I think we’re slowly wandering out of the strictly Waldorf aisle of homeschooling and into the eclectic section. This is really a difficult thing for me to admit. I love the beauty of Waldorf, as well the pedagogy and even some of the spirituality. I am not, however, married to a strict interpretation of the curriculum sequence.