I was delighted to see in December’s national publication of Montessori Life, an article written by a former TNSM (6-9) teacher (Kira Hinkle) about the previous TNSM Head of School, Eric Dustman! It was a reminder of how our alumni and predecessors continue to do great things in the world! We stand on awesome shoulders.
The article was about creating a culture of curiosity. The New School Montessori has a long history of fostering curiosity. One of Maria Montessori’s core beliefs was that we are all born deeply curious beings. The primary role of a Montessori teacher is to nourish and guide this natural curiosity. That can happen in a variety of ways; preparing an environment that encourages exploration and discovery, not interrupting children while they choose and delve into their work, and asking more questions–rather than giving answers.
I have always loved the quote, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” TNSM classrooms and teachers work toward being the spark for each child, promoting curiosity over lecture and promoting the co-creation of knowledge rather than just passively taking in information. For several years I had the joy of instructing aspiring middle school and high school teachers on Montessori philosophy through a program called CMSTEP. The program was run by a woman who became a mentor and friend, Marta Donahue. Marta was also quoted in the article I came across saying, ” It is hard work to understand the depth of carefully sequenced lessons and experiences that [Montessori] designed to create a genuine experience for the child. This work avoids simple answers. It evades black-and-white opinions. It frowns on bullet points. Simply put, the work invites us to study, discuss, engage, and participate in transformation, and, in doing so, it promises a better world.” I love how Marta describes lessons as a “genuine experience for the child.” It is impossible to experience a lesson like that without engaging curiosity.
It has been a long time since I shared Trevor Essler’s illustrated video on Montessori education, but I thought it speaks so eloquently to the spirit of curiosity we honor at The New School Montessori. If you have three minutes, it’s worth a watch. Here it is. ENJOY!