a place where pedagogy & practice are explored respectfully but most importantly open-mindedly, driven by imagination, observation, reflection, by passion & a deep yearning for growth, creativity, custodianship & contribution. A place where one can relish the opportunity that life affords to create the person they are to become.
life as opportunity - cosmic succession - hereditary independence
Montessori's unique approach to learning and the subsequent formulation of a methodology to guide and support the growth of young lives was born of immense creative vision, years of dedicated observation, much research and reflection, and a deep belief that humanity's capacity for peace firmly lay in the child.
Many around the world are inspired and enlightened by the depth and beauty of her work, once the 'classroom' is seen, her true genius becomes apparent...experiencing children within a mixed age, prepared environment working freely and independently brings the onlooker a great sense of comfort, often adults are heard commenting, 'If only I could have learnt this way...' It is without doubt an innovative and intuitive philosophy viewed more as an 'aid to life' than a schooling mechanism.
In many respects, the essence of the work, the intention and spirit of inquiry behind it is more important than the systematic and dogmatic replication of a series of perceived instructions...that wasn't the apparent goal for the prepared environment and the children in it, let alone the loftier aspiration of world peace.
Every living thing experiences a great unfolding...one of learning and growth. To make an authentic, purposeful cosmic contribution, each life must be founded in freedom, the fundamental liberty to play or have an interplay with an idea, concept, thought or presumption. It is only through this experience, this relationship that a deep form of integration can take place providing additional tools from which they can further 1/ construct themselves and 2/ add value to the collective.
This notion of freedom is commonly and easily misunderstood by those new to Montessori as a free pass to do whatever one likes. However, this couldn't be further from the truth, It is the work of the guide/parent/adult to establish the container, the limits and or responsibility that comes with making decisions and to foster a connection to and understanding of the necessary attitude, reverence and gratitude required to bring forth a sense of value and love for the very world that sustains us.
The question remains - Are we 'doing Montessori'?? or using her beautiful work to further 'do us'??
If the latter is the case, then one must not fear any honest inclination to become the creator and/or innovator...if we confidently (and respectfully) commit to our process of self-creation, then we not only pay the greatest homage to her but also give the young lives we guide permission to do so too.
Life as Opportunity
The diagram simply indicates the basic premise, sets the scene or gives greater context to an understanding of existence. It proposes that 'life' provides opportunity, one then makes choices through which they script a Personal Authentic Narrative (PAN) thus making their cosmic contribution.
It takes the view that the entire process of life is a 'liminal experience' holding space for continuous transformation i.e. growth.
NOTE: At this moment, in terms of navigating the great river of life/existence and not controlling it... the discussion surrounding choice here can be taken to be separate from further exploration of the ideas, views looking at free will and determinism.
The Plane of Cosmic Succession
Two decades of working closely with families in the learning space, forming relationships, making observations and reflecting upon life unearthed the desire to further explore the four plane model of development that Montessori presented.
She spoke of the child being the hope and promise for the future...this same child who spends the majority if not all of their most formative and absorbent years in the care of parents and then guides who themselves have formed habits, attitudes, constructs, biases, who carry traumas and unresolved issues...people who exist daily within systems that may provide knowledge, a means to navigate the material world but often lacks the support that truly matters. The schooling system is one such mechanism. Please don't misunderstand, there are beautiful environments, staffed with passionate and loving individuals however the construct itself is, based on what we now know of learning is antiquated. It focusses on knowledge, testing, outcomes and competition as opposed to the nurturing of wisdom, creativity, compassion and mutualism.
The introduction of a fifth plane may only be required until such time as we are able to develop prepared spaces for adults to explore and continue to develop. If we discover that this falls short then we strongly advocate for a plane of cosmic succession where adult/guides and parents to be, are held such that they may explore life past, present and future and consciously move towards designing the environment and person the child/ren will meet. Please note, this is not about a perfect environment simply the creation of time and space for a more personal and considered approach...a rite of passage to adulthood.
Towards Hereditary Independence
Following on from the model presented above, this diagram represents the extension of the idea of comic education (more specific to the second plane 6-12 yrs in Montessori's work) and pulls it into a continuum that provides an orientation for guides and parents across all planes.
The first four planes and their specifically observed tendency towards the acquisition of identified stages of independence are documented in Montessori literature. Here, they are linked to a cosmic unfolding or process culminating at the point of 'cosmic succession' i.e. the capacity to truly 'hold space' for the growth of another life (be that through parenting or in the role of a classroom guide)
The significant task of consciously preparing an environment, held with the intention of facilitating or supporting the realisation of each individual's potential, can only be reached through deep observation, reflection and inquiry, opening the doorway to hereditary independence...where one's capacity to look at the entirety of who they are and where the have come from and begin to put context around it, to accept, understand and embrace it in its totality such that the space held for young growing lives is done so with an ever-growing humility, a tempered ego and the capacity to meet each individual where they are at, free of expectations, constructs and pre-determined linear/chronological milestones.
The continuum illustrated below has age 'ranges' to help highlight the fact that Montessori observed certain developments around these general ages providing a platform of respect and reverence for each individual's own learning pathway.
A Learning Tapestry that Learns
Just as a preamble, it is important to note that the framework referred to as the Learning Tapestry provides a blueprint or map to assist with process orientation. The contents are a direct product of observation, experience, contemplation and imagination. What is displayed in the next diagram only identifies the foundational planes, the complete, personal tapestry includes many threads. It can be used linearly, in a uniquely determined sequence or interchangeably if more pertinent personal threads not present are added.
The three axes begin by identifying principles, follow on to outline a vehicle for inquiry from a point of invitation towards innovation, it then looks at great human capacities, potentialities or processes that can support the scripting of a personal narrative.
Essentially, it is simply an instrument that helps to concretise an existential process from intent to expression...that aids one to become aware of their ability to create habits by design. What that process looks like and how it is navigated is up to each individual...thus providing freedom within limits.
THE DIAGONAL AXIS
The Axis of Principle
THE VERTICAL AXIS
The Axis of Inquiry
THE HORIZONTAL AXIS
The Axis of Capacity
The experience or process of developing this foundational axis provides one with the opportunity to explore the origins of their intent or alternatively to form the basis upon which they would like to build/design their lives.
These personal values or principles become both a point of beginning and a point of return...they establish resonance with self and are malleable changing, growing and evolving with the individual.
The vertical axis scaffolds an approach to learning from inquiry to insight via five different stages each supporting the previous and collectively driving integration.
This process is founded upon a revised and extended Montessori three period lesson with the addition of two steps, the first promoting connection and the last actively supporting the inclusion of an application stage in the learning trajectory taking it beyond the mere transition of knowledge and towards wisdom.
The third and final foundational axis looks at five great human capacities or processes completing the outline for the PIC(5) framework.
This exploration of human expression or potential identifies how the conscious development of these capacities culminates in the realisation of a deep culture of stewardship that will support life individually through legacy creation and collectively through a journey of custodianship.
In keeping with all aspects of the framework both the capacities and their developmental stages can be innovated upon or personalised.