Montessori Moments

In this Montessori Moment, Lower Elementary Directress, Nicole Filer explains how the academic work that her students perform in the classroom also contributes to their growth as individuals.  She also reveals that the most profound growth sometimes occurs in the quietest moments.

Creation of Self
by Nicole Filer, Lower Elementary Directress

I scrapped my Montessori Moments article… the one I had written before walking into Tuesday’s staff meeting. This is not the article I had written before I heard Julia read from Montessori’s Education and Peace (the book we are discussing at our monthly staff meeting). In my Montessori Moments articles I tend to try to pull from my memory something great: the warmest act of compassion or the brightest “lightbulb” moment. I wish to give a window into the world I am blessed to be a part of everyday. However, many of the truly great moments are small… quiet.

“The child’s goal might be summed up in the word incarnation;”

Those were the words Julia read, which I had already read, but yesterday struck me differently. The creation of self by the child can easily go unnoticed…

Last week I reviewed the “Magic e” rule with the first level students. Wanting to assist the children in finding what they were learning in the larger world, we read stories and looked for words following this rule amongst the pages. After presenting this work, I was approached at mid-morning by two first-level boys.

“We wrote 19 words!” they stated, proudly raising their notebooks.

Needing only to write seven words, I was surprised to find rows of words covering the page. These boys had decided to write them all- every “Magic e” word they found in their book.

“…And we found a sentence!” they added, their words bursting forth.

I knelt quietly beside them as they pointed to three of the words recorded on their page: Kate came home. Yes, they had found a sentence too.

This moment is what came to mind when I heard Julia repeating Montessori’s words; the work these boys did was not only created in their notebooks, it added to the creation of themselves. What if I had just given a worksheet? Given them a paper with only 7 blanks? What if they had not been sitting by each other or I had not allowed them to work together today?

Just the week before I had seen one of these boys during his atrium time. He was working outside of the classroom, a long work stretching down the hall. While another child set out a few objects, the first boy moved to the side of the hall, sitting below a large statue of the Good Shepherd,  resting at his feet and gazing up at him. As the other boy finished, the first rose, and looking at the statue, leaned in, wrapping his arms around his Shepherd’s legs. Embracing Him, the child turned with a little skip and joined his friend back by the work.

As with the formation of that sentence, I do not know what happened in that moment, but I do not doubt its significance. I believe that the most profound moments that take place in the life of a child as well as within our environment cannot necessarily fill an entire page. They occur in the quiet, deliberate movements of a child forming his being, creating himself through his mistakes and successes, where he constructs not only a work, but his very being. These are the moments I want to share. These are the moments the children grow from, and if we are to let them continue in this journey, we must learn from as well.