Friday, July 13, 2007

Thoreau Society Session

I had organized a session for the meeting on using the Life with Principle DVD. The original plan was that two teachers were going to talk about using the DVD in quite different classrooms, with hopefully some students adding their voices, and I would just chair the session. But both teachers had to back out and the program organizer didn't want us to cancel the session, so my daughter and I decided we would do something on our own.

I couldn't speak directly to how the video went over in my daughters classroom and I hadn't used it myself, so instead I talked about the history of Montessori schools to make the point that a Montessori classroom was a particularly good fit for Thoreau's ideas. I didn't find any direct connections, but there are some correspondences, particularly an emphasis on individual self-realization. Montessori sounds rather like Thoreau when she writes:
But if for the physical life it is necessary to have the child exposed to the vivifying forces of nature, it is also necessary for his psychical life to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of living nature. The method for arriving at this end is to set the child at agricultural labor, guiding him in the cultivation of plants and animals, and so to the intelligent contemplation of nature. (The Montessori Method ch. 10)
My daughter then talked about what happened in her classroom and we used quotes from other students to start discussion. There were clearly a group of people glad of a chance to talk about education.

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