Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Tao of Management - Darkness

Darkness - Meng
     Bob Messing writes, " Darkness comes from using intellect mistakenly thereby reducing cleverness.  This artificial cleverness results in the seeking of a reality which is already there.  A manager must be open, calm, sincere, and serious.  He proceeds along the path of non-contrivance.  The innocence of action needed in the midst of darkness is the innocence which is cognizant of darkness.  Darkness is a confusion which moves the manager on to subsequent enlightenment."
    When I think of darkness I also think of being in the midst of chaos.  This passage reminds me of an experience that I had two years ago.  It was an experience that required me to be open, calm, sincere, and serious.

    I had thirty-three children at the time, my assistant was upstairs and I was giving a lesson to about four children.  In my periphery I saw one of my fifth grade boys running over to me with a bloody hand.  It turns out that he accidentally broke a test tube and cut his finger pretty badly.  Then, I took him to the closest sink and simultaneously instructed a fourth year student to call the office upstairs and let them know what was going on.  As I was inspecting his wound a child ran over to me and told me that one of the girls passed out.  When I went over to her, my assistant came downstairs and made a mad dash to the bathroom because she got sick.  Someone from the office came downstairs and I directed her to the child in the bathroom trying to stop the bleeding.  Meanwhile, the child that passed out became conscious again and I took care of her with the help of some of her friends.

    In conclusion, the boy ended up going to the hospital, upon tending to the child that passed out she was okay and my assistant went home for the day.  In that series of moments I learned how important it was to be open, calm, sincere, and serious.  However, I must add that it is also important to be lighthearted.  During that series of events I was fortunate enough to instinctively respond in such a way that I was all of those things.

    Montessori teachers, to me, are managers.  I am sure most of us if not all of us have had experiences where we have had to replicate these qualities whether it is with a child or parent.  Through chaos or darkness comes harmony.  Please share with us any stories you might have where you have seen that staying open, calm, sincere, and serious has benefited you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Tao of Management - 3. Difficulty at the Beginning

Difficulty at the beginning - Chun

     Bob Messing writes, "We all experience difficulty at the beginning.  It occurs when the creative and receptive unite to create.  This is always and naturally the case.  A manager's success in dealing with difficulty at the beginning is achieved through perseverance, delaying activities, and through the selection of helpers.  The confusion of difficulty will result in order.  The manager pursues goals within a prevailing mood of hesitation and hindrance.  He subordinates himself to inferiors so that the hearts of all can be won.  In this case, correctness of management style in dealing with difficulty allows for creativity and results in success."

     In the classroom, don't we have to be creative and receptive, especially in the beginning, whether it is the beginning of a lesson or start of the year.  We have to persevere if a child is not quite getting it.  Sometimes we even select helpers to give it a go while we step back and observe.  Isn't it so true that through chaos or confusion or frustration order or at least understanding and possible insight comes to light.  So, we should not run or hide in our more challenging emotions when the storm of a conflict comes.  We should embrace the experience for by now we should know order will come.  What a great lesson to show the children at such an early age by being a role model for that.  The guide or manager or parent puts themselves second so that the "hearts of all can be won." ~ Bob Messing

When this is followed, most of us can probably recall from experience that the child has their light bulb moment!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Tao of Management - 2. Receptive K'un

"Receptive is the nature of the man who serves.  It is the station of second place.  Thusly, should all managers describe themselves.  The manager becomes receptive, yielding, devoted, moderate, and correct.  The receptive mind is obedient to natural principles and is able to develop understanding from confusion.  The manager makes things right, strives for fulfillment of his duty, and completes his tasks without fabrication." - Bob Messing

     The successful and fulfilled Montessori guide and parent or the guide and parent striving for success and fulfillment practice receptive.  It seems to me that receptive in the Tao relates to Montessori's observing, and Buddhism's deep listening.  The manager, the guide, or the adult must be receptive (open-minded throughout communication).  There must be a yielding or willingness to be silent.  A genuine inner devotion to resolution leads to a greater possibility towards peace.  Utilize the ability to moderate the given situation.  Doing all of these things and having the mindfulness of correctness leads to the experience of receptive.

    How can we or how do we inspire receptive in the classroom or for the parent?  Do you have any examples of how receptive has been experienced in your classroom or school?  \

With gratitude I look forward to your comments and contributions!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"The Tao of Management" The Creative - Ch'ien

    I found this book "The Tao of Management," by Bob Messing in Ocean City, New Jersey.  After looking through it I thought to myself what it would be like to apply the wisdom from the "Tao Te Ching" into the perspectives of the Montessori Classroom and possibly home life too.  In all fairness, there is already a wonderful book called "The Tao of Montessori".  Then I came to the conclusion that I am going to take on a little experiment this summer.  I am going to read the sixty-four passages in this book "The Tao of Management," reflect on each one, and then see and write about how it can be applied.  I think and hope that we will both find some value in this experiment.  

Bob Messing writes for his first passage, The Creative - Ch'ien

    "The creative represents the strength of Tao, you, and your organization.  Strength is born, expanded, fulfilled, and consolidated.  if any of these aspects of strength are lacking, the creative quality of strength is not complete.  The manager must never confuse strength with force.  They are not the same.  The manager concentrates on the accomplishment of his task(s), and is minimally visible.  Arrogance is the extreme of knowing something about winning but nothing about losing.  Arrogance blocks a manager by diminishing his creative strength."  

    Without the creative, the child will be lost both in the classroom and at home.  The adult must be creative in their capacity to inspire.  Remember, inspiration is different then motivation.  Anyone can be motivated to do something.  It is using something external to get someone to do something that you want them to do.  Inspiration is getting the person to light their own spark and to take off.  That is what we want to do for the child in the classroom and hopefully what the adult wants for their child at home.  One must be creative to inspire.  The more creative is exercised, the more strength there is.

    Strength is internal just like inspiration.  It seems to me that the frustration of not being able to or even understand that they must inspire causes the adult to use their force and they become misguided thinking that they have strength.  The adult must focus on what they wish the outcome to be, especially upon failure.  It is necessary for the adult to focus on what the goal is for the child, give them the tools and then be visible as little as possible during their process.  Each failure of the child is truly another opportunity for the adult to express more creatively and find a different way to inspire.  In realty we always hear, "location, location, location," but in learning it should be, "presentation, presentation, presentation."  Presentation is how learning and teaching can be successful with all of its components, variances, and ability to provide and accept idiosyncrasies.  

   If we allow ourselves to remove the internal obstacles, and be careful to not confuse or misuse force for strength then the child keeps us humble.  An important thing to note is that when you are aware of arrogance as you are trying to present something or too comfortable with successfully presenting, it is then that the adult's creative strength is blocked and the trust in the presentation is temporarily disconnected.  We have the opportunity to be humbled by the child.  The problem here is not in having confidence, but in not being able to adapt to the child and be creative because of arrogance or force.

   Well, this was the first of sixty - four passages.  I look forward to your observations, thoughts and insights.  Maybe you have a different interpretation that you would like to share.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cosmic Education

Cosmic Education

‘It is this vision of an indivisible unity made up of energy, of sky, of rocks, of water, of life, of humans as adults and humans as children that lends a sense of the cosmic to Montessori’s thinking. This cosmic sense pervades all of Montessori’s work, both her thinking and her educational approach for all of the different planes and stages of development of the human being: from birth without violence to the Infant Community, to the Casa dei Bambini, to the elementary school, to the Erdkinder community for adolescents.  Quite clearly, then, this cosmic vision belongs by right to the whole of the Montessori movement: it is indeed the key which gives us a shared direction and a common goal in our work’.

‘Maria Montessori’s Cosmic Vision, Cosmic Plan and Cosmic Education’ p 81 – 82 Conference Proceedings, Paris 2001

Maria Montessori saw the first plane of development as being the start of cosmic education.  The child needs freedom to explore and absorb the environment.  They need to learn how to function and communicate in their immediate environment.  The adult in the classroom and the parent(s) at home need to learn how to observe, prepare and manipulate the environment and obstacles for the child in order to establish the greatest possibility for success and inner fulfillment.  The instructions for success are within the child just as the instructions for a seed are within that seed to become what it is meant to.  Both just need the right ingredients.  Both the adult in the classroom and parent(s) at home need to be more thoughtful of themselves and the child.  Thoughtfulness is a large part of what cosmic education is all about.  Your child’s education should incorporate a collaboration between home and school and not consist of two completely separate entities. 

The six to twelve year old child is literally given the universe.  They receive a vision of their role as a human being from the first humans to the modern day human.  Very generally and literally speaking here is where they begin to learn how to function and participate in the world beyond their immediate environment.  A general to specific education is given at this age.  The child learns about the laws that the universe follows all the way up to the specific details and foundations of subject matter which is not limited to mathematics, language, science, and history, but everything in between.   The foundation of the elementary education is interdependence.    There is an interdependence that can be seen and felt between each other and subject matter. 

The second component of Montessori’s Cosmic Education is what Camillo referred to in the quotation, as the ‘ vision of an indivisible unity …’ this determines the Montessori view of the Universe. In her book ‘To Educate the Human Potential’ Chapter 1 ‘The six-year-old- confronted with the Cosmic Plan’ Dr. Montessori describes it in this way, ‘Since it has been seen to be necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions. We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied, having found the universal centre of himself with all things’

(Clio 1989 p 5 – 6)

The third plane of development includes the twelve to eighteen year old adolescent.  Most people do not distinguish an adolescent from a child or an adult.  However, an adolescent can be characterized by that person which is no longer a child and not yet an adult.  They are more concerned with themselves constantly self-assessing.  There is regular critical thinking and self re-evaluation.  The adolescent is transitioning both physically and mentally.  This is where beginning to find themselves and their place in the world truly begins and should be nurtured.  Social and moral values are constructed and reconstructed.  Maria Montessori termed “Erkinder,” “Children of the Land,” as a key for the adolescent to unlock their innate powers.  A model of an education on a farm is where the child practices and learns for success in life.  All the subject matters can be learned and applied within a farm like structure and there is a co-existence between classroom learning, internships and farming. 

When you perceive the differences between traditional western education and Maria Montessori’s concept of Cosmic Education you can only come to one true conclusion.  Cosmic Education leads to the probability of fulfillment while traditional education leads to the possibility of material success in some profession.  Education through Maria Montessori’s Method leads to material success and happiness as a side effect from achieving fulfillment; they are not the goals in and of themselves.    The goal of an education through Maria Montessori’s vision is that of fulfillment from birth through the age of eighteen.  This is the foundation for life, the rest is just details.