Saturday, December 29, 2012


“Humanity today” . . . “resembles an abandoned child who finds himself lost in a wood at night, and is frightened by the shadows and mysterious noises of the night. Men do not clearly realize what are the forces that draw them into war, (or the need for guns), and for that reason they are defenceless against them.” Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, E. M. Standing, p. 81.

She goes on to say that, “there must be something radically wrong with our civilization that it should be threatened in this way from within. The vast majority of human beings on this planet do not want war; yet wars come. The causes of war, she would have us believe, are not those which appear on the surface and immediately precipitate its outbreak. They lie deep down in the collective subconscious of humanity.

“The real reason” . . . “is that something was wanting in the building up of our civilization. A vital factor has been left out: and that is, the child as a creative social factor,”. . . “we have only taken into account, “adult values of life.”. . . “regarding childhood merely as a stage through which the individual has to pass in order to become an adult”. . .“from the individual’s point of view.”

Childhood is more than this Maria tells us. Childhood is an important entity of its own . . . “the other pole of humanity.”

When we hold a babe in our arms, look into the eyes of a toddler, enjoy watching their play, do we imagine or see them with guns or at war? Don’t we see and feel a sense of hope that they will live in peace without guns? Isn’t Christmas a time to foresee a world of peace?

Maria tells us, “The child and the adult are two distinct parts of humanity which must work together and interpenetrate with reciprocal aid,”. . . “not only the adult who must help the child, but also the child who must help the adult.” More next week.

Please read my book, Montessori—Living the Good Life.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


When tragedy befalls us like the terrible event in Connecticut, Friday, December 14, sorrow and broken hearts immediately follow. Humans are very good at holding on to broken hearts. What else can we do about our natural feelings of sorrow and pain? Can we sit and patiently wait for the healing? No. Grief comes quickly and is depressing. It feels better to be angry. Even fear feels better than grief or depression. Would you believe that? That anger and fear feel better than to carry the weight of sorrow and a broken heart?

Feelings of anger and fear can be good and can move us to intelligent action and the pride of knowing we can and have to do something about our sorrow and pain.  Action allows us to find company and join with others who, like us, feel a need to do something. We are angry. Why, how, did such a terrible thing happen? What can we do?

When humans join in communion for action against such tragedies, there is usually two groupings: those needing to express their fear and anger immediately, and those who want to be patient and understanding with their own and others sorrow and pain and to find a thoughtful way of preventing future tragedies.

Will consideration of guns or no guns give us a reasonable solution? To have or not to have guns is an ancient paradox. Do we need guns?  Do we have a right to bear arms? Will guns in our schools and homes reduce the violence in our nation?

These are questions on the minds of many this holy week of Christmas . . . makes me wonder what Maria Montessori would have to say about guns. They certainly would not have been found in her schools or shelved in her classrooms. I’m going to think about this until next week and see if I can make sense to the questions.

Please read my book, Montessori—Living the Good Life.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Time to decorate for Christmas . . . "are we going to put up a tree this year, or the manger scene I ask my husband? It’s such a hassle, bringing it up from the crawl space. Why don’t we get a little table top one," I say. He nods okay with a glum look which means he wants the big tree. “It’s tradition,” he says. “Well, maybe not the manger scene?” I ask. Let’s go modern, I’m thinking. Another glum look.

Fifty-two years ago when my first child was born I ordered a beautiful manger scene from Italy. Almost every year since then I’ve set it up. After placing the small figures in a snow backdrop of white cloth with lights shining around and through the cloth, the angel hanging on the wall, I feel a special contentment as I stand and meditate on the symbolic meaning of the story of Christ being born. As a mother, Montessori enthusiast, and guide, the story has great truth and important teaching elements for me.

Santa Claus is another Christmas story originating when an old guy with a white beard put gifts in children’s shoes. Unlike the infant Jesus, a promised savior who brought hope to the people of a nation, this old man brought hope to the children of poor families. Both stories are tales of giving which give us opportunity to express our traditions, or models to create new ones.

Parents ask, “How do we tell our children about Santa Claus and be honest?” Maria Montessori would remind you to not tell or try to teach—but to show. Create the environment which has meaning to your family or community and your child will absorb the truths you want to share.

“Innocents Lost” the headline reads today, December 14, 2012—a very sad day for all and for our nation. We will need our stories to renew hope for our broken hearts, and to create a new and safer environment for our young.

Please read my book, Montessori—Living the Good Life.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


“We have to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative . . . . “ Remember that song?

Maren Schmidt had a good quote in her recent newsletter, Understanding Montessori. “If you find yourself in a "crabby habit of mind", shift your focus to the blessing instead of the criticism. Look for the positive, knowing full well the negative is there. Find qualities to appreciate and praise. What you feed grows, so feed positive qualities with appreciation and ignore negative qualities as long as no one is hurt. As you find qualities to be thankful for in your children and others, you will cultivate an attitude of gratitude.”

She quotes Dr. John Gottman who lists in his book, The Relationship Cure, about 75 qualities we can find to appreciate and praise. Some of these follow: loving, intelligent, strong, energetic, persistent, funny, gentle, kind, relaxed, beautiful, calm, tender, careful, strong, interesting and helpful.

As a scientist, Dr. Montessori observed these qualities in the children and focused on the reasons to value them, knowing they are attributes of the normal child.  The work of the parent, teacher, or guide is to focus on, appreciate, and praise the expected positive qualities.

Please read my book, Montessori—Living the Good Life.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Tis the season children get excited as they set their hearts on gifts seen on television and in stores. Moms and Dads may feel the stress of their child’s excitement for different reasons—like shortage of money which is a problem this year with so many out of work. Christmas, like every day, is a time for happiness but sometimes it doesn’t have a chance when parents and children are forgetting how to relax and enjoy moments and treasures of everyday pleasures of life.
I was intent on finishing my Christmas letters and shopping this week, before the first of December. My mind, busy with mental lists, kept waking me in the night, leaving me tired during the day and too exhausted and short of energy I needed to accomplish my intent. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

 What if I were a parent, or a teacher having to be with children the next day and my child or one of the children in the classroom was frustrated with the family stress of the holidays?
It’s not easy for a parent or teacher to let go of their own emotional situation and consider the child’s point of view and emotional feelings of the moment.

Dr. Montessori always paid attention to the troubled child, first. She knew the upset child had the greatest need for appreciation and praise.

Please read my book, Montessori—Living the Good Life.