Tuesday, February 17, 2009
i want to respond to cyndi's thoughtful comments regarding education while expanding on what i am just beginning to discuss here but will continue to be a reoccurring topic: education. first, cyndi, don't worry, i wasn't offended. i welcome such discourse and am glad that you shared. i am sorry that you and j had such a difficult time with the school in nara. i know the school you are referring to but i don't think that they qualify as a montessori school. they, like many schools here in japan, use terms like montessori and international to attract students (or more aptly put, their parents). in a certified montessori school, the curriculum would be based upon creating peace. that is actually one of the foundations of the montessori method. if we can help children find their true selves by helping them on the path towards becoming functional adults, then a balance and peacefulness will be achieved that the child can carry with them throughout their existence. if each child was at peace with themselves, loved and respected themselves enough so that they could love others selflessly, then consider what society would be like.
maria montessori was deeply concerned with peace as a foundation of education. she said "Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education." this directive was influenced in part by her experiences living in italy under the reign of mussolini, during which she was forced to flee to spain since mussolini considered her philosophy a threat to fascism. on the other hand, montessori and gandhi had an established communication and admiration for each other.
perhaps it seems overly idealistic for me to believe that a certified montessori school would be true to the founding principles. yet, again, montessori's genius is apparent. she established a system that required strict training of the classroom assistants and directress so that the principles could be adhered in the manner of a lineage. when a montessori teacher is certified especially from the association montessori internationale, montessori's original organization, then there is a sense of trust that the teacher respects and applies the true montessori method with each child. so i sincerely believe that if i could send my sons to a true montessori school, peace would play a more prominent role. i simply cannot believe that children are "just being kids" when they express such violence. a child enters this world innocent and it is the violence of adults that corrupts that state. the argument for children to play-fight is that it is just the way of the world. that is a argument i would hate to see win. violence and hatred do not have to be our reality. we are in charge. we should determine our peace.
and to revisit the idea of socialization, i wanted to clarify that i did not mean it in the traditional sense. i know that homeschooled/unschooled children are perfectly socialized. they can't help it since they are humans (i am writing this as a former homeschooled child). we are social creatures. even children raised by wolves learn to be social even if they never learn how to speak so the arguments that critics have against homeschooling/unschooling regarding social aptitude is unfounded. what i was writing about is about dealing with differences in a compassionate way that includes loving-kindness. yes, there is a lot of bullying in japanese schools and american schools (i can't speak for education systems i am not familiar with). if the child is in harm's way either physically, mentally, or spiritually it is probably for the best to remove them from the situation for a better one. yet, a lot of the time in our lives we have to be with others who we don't agree with and we need to learn how to deal with others in a cooperative and respectful manner. it is a daily lesson in non-violence with sebastian when we explain that hitting is not the answer. and when he asks, like he always does, why do the other children hit?, there is another lesson waiting, a lesson in understanding and compassion. most of the hitting is done in a "friendly" manner but even so, it should not be tolerated. i have a lot of students who hit me (sometimes hard) but they are not trying to be cruel. i do my best to let them know that it is not acceptable but since it is not being reinforced by anyone else, why would they respect me?
so, that brings us to my last short post (with the heart rock ;)). we are trying to get out of here. not japan (sorry mom) but this particular situation. i really want to move to kyoto and most of that desire is based on the fact that they have an excellent international school there that is inquiry based and provides a stable bilingual education. i would personally love to work at a better school but the most important element is that the boys have a better environment. we might switch back to homeschooling if we can't find a good school but since the boys are so energetic due to their intellect and sensitivity, it is difficult for jason to guide them along that path, especially since he is going to start working on his own education soon. besides, they love being with other kids. and children learn best from each other, provided the situation is one that generates peacefulness. if that situation is in a traditional classroom or in a loving home, that is determined by each family.
anyway, i hope this illuminated some of the ideas that i began in haste in my last few posts. hope you are all well and please, comment away. take care.