Character Teaching in Central America

Lee Havis and Felix Ulloa, vice-president elect of El Salvador meeting in Maryland USA

By Lee Havis
The IMS “Character Teaching” (CT) project arose in 2000 as an innovative practical means for Montessori teaching with children to overcome cultural poverty in those regions of the world where this condition is most severe. The key goal is to overcome this condition by bringing about a fundamental shift in the character development of poor children, leading to a better and more successful society for all. In 2004, I sought funding to conduct this project through grants from the US Department of Labordesigned to help erradicate child labor through education in various poor regions of the world.

Although none of my grant applications were approved, writing them encouraged my outreach to make some useful contacts and support for the CT project in a number of countries. Among the grant applications I wrote, was one for Central America to operate in the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama.

In 2017, I recognized a possible opportunity to gain interest in this project due to the serious problem of illegal immigration from that region into the United States. At present, the United State government is spending over $200 billion dollars of taxpayer funds each year to sustain some 25 million illegal aliens in the country, almost all coming from Central America. I reasoned that the United States government would now be more receptive to funding the CT project to resolve this problem due to people leaving the condition of poverty in Central America for a better life in the United States.

I have focused my recent activity for the CT project on the country of El Salvador because there is a large concentration of people from that country near the IMS office in Silver Spring, MD USA. Connecting personally with this local community, I have been able to participate in a series of broadcast interviews and panel show discussions on local Spanish language news media to highlight the CT project. In 2019, I was invited to attend an El Salvador community event in the area, where I met Felix Ulloa, vice president elect of that country. At that time, I briefly discussed the CT project with him, and he seemed genuinely interested.

My plan for operating the CT project in El Salvador is to obtain a letter of support from the newly elected president of that country, organize a local consultation board of responsible citizens in the country, and then obtain funding for an initial consultation visit, to conduct a workshop training in the specific IMS technology and skills of “true natural” Montessori teaching that will be a vital starting point for the project itself. Hopefully, this initial visit would then lead to funding a larger scale grant from the United States government, which would begin to resolve the problem of illegal immigration into the United States from that region.

I’m confident that once the CT project becomes operational somewhere in the world, it will quickly demonstrate positive results, and gain widespread support in other countries where cultural poverty has been such a long-term drain on peace, harmony, and successful economic opportunity. For more information on this project, visit the IMS website: http:// imsmontessori.org/montessori-characterteaching. htm