Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Tao of Management - 9. Nurturance by the small

    Bob Messing writes, "Management from the lower levels is developmental, but can mean small development for the organization and the people in it.  However, a manager who walks with and among his people knows greatness and is humble.  A manager grows through humility.  This should represent valuable insight and should be thought over in the spirit of honest self-evaluation.

    Humility is definitely an important key to a successful Montessori classroom.  The guide must practice humility and utilize discernment.  Humility is a bridge used for the mutual respect between student and guide. 

     I heard a great story from a very well respected Montessori guide that has stuck with me for some time now.  It includes a great math lesson as well as what I found to be a wonderful story about his humility.  In this story I will call this guide J.

    J was giving a math lesson and he asked his little group what was 96 x 5 eual too.  The children were working it out as well as the guide and one child finished it amazingly quickly.  Then the child asked, "J, what is taking you so long?" J said, "What do you mean? I am doing 90 x 5 which is 450 + 5x6, which is 30, then I added them and got 480." 

     The child then went on to say, " J you obviosuly did not go to a Montessori school because if you did then you would know a much faster way to do that problem."  J laughed and said, " well, you are right, I did not go to a Montessori school as a child, I have only been teaching for about 40 years." 

    The child when on to say, "well, that is probably why you never figured out that all you have to do is multiply 96 x 10, which is obviously 960.  Then take half of that and you get 480.  In fact, anytime you multiply a number by five, all you have to do is multiply it by ten and then take half of it."  J, then thought about it and figured out that the child was right.  He then thanked him for sharing that with everyone.  Later on, if I remember correctly that child got J a sign to hang up in his classroom.  J got such a kick of out if that he did hang it up and this action of hanging up the sign just reflected how humble I felt he was when he shared the story.  The quote says," Those who can-do, those who can't -teach, and those who can't teach - teach Montessori." 

   Some may find this quote offensive and on the one hand it might very well be offensive.  However, J is a very good teacher and very well respected.  It spoke volumes to me with which the humor that he found in all of this and the fact that he hung it up in his classroom. 

    I hope that this story encourages you to reflect on humility in the classroom and the role that it has with you and your children whether they be in the classroom or at home.  I am grateful for being able hear this story first hand and for learning that little math trick. 


Laura Pallandre said...

Hi Matthew,

I enjoyed this story, thank you!

Laura Pallandre

Anonymous said...

Great post, Matthew! I wonder how many of the Elementary materials were shaped by the children over the years? My trainer told us that a 7-year-old child "invented" the "finger hopping" addition chart.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I remember that story!! Thanks for posting it, it's truly delightful. :)

I once had a four-year old finish the short 9-chain and tell me: "I finished the 81 chain". I told him (in all my righteousness, ugh): "Oh, you finished the 9-chain." And he replied: "No, it's the 81-chain. Because the gold one is called the hundred chain."

Humbled, indeed.