Montessori Workshop in Stirling, Scotland
On July 9-10, 2005, the Society conducted its ‘Creating the New Education” workshop in Stirling, Scotland. Ann Travers provided local coordination for this event, which included the participation of educators from throughout the United Kingdom, as well as Germany, Canada, Nepal and West Africa.
Lee Havis, IMS executive director, guided the discussion through a presentation and analysis of the technology of Montessori teaching he consolidated in 2003. The discussion analyzed many examples and situations using this technology, which consists of various techniques, protocols, lesson presentations and safe words to ‘control the environment, not the child’.
Havis especially emphasized the importance of language and context to effectively communicate and understand Montessori teaching. He said ‘we experience, communicate and understand within a context, which is usually a conventional reality that does not allow for normal being as described by Dr. Montessori. We must therefore create a new context of understanding that allows for the possibility of normal being as discovered by Dr. Montessori. This is a very unconventional reality, which requires a very different type of language for its communication and understanding.’
The workshop viewed Montessori teaching as a context of experiential understanding, where both new experiences and understanding are both necessary to lead towards the ultimate experience of normal being in children. Havis said ‘we must think and act in ways consistent with the reality of commitment to laws of nature, a new reality which is totally contrary to the tendencies of conventional human nature. Otherwise, we simply confine our experiences to a fixed context of prior understanding only.”
Havis presented and discussed a document entitled ‘New Education Terminology’, which included a list of key words and phrases; e.g., experience, understanding, normal being, to better communicate the essentials of Montessori teaching. Havis said ‘using this new terminology will help you consciously create the new reality of being committed to laws of nature — even while the old conventional reality is automatically running in the background all the time.”
After the workshop, Havis visited several nearby schools to observe and consult with educators about their actual classroom experience and practices. He expressed his hope to see further continuing efforts to renew and revive the original authentic practice of Montessori teaching in Europe.