"Bacchon aise dheere se jakar yeh rakhna hai, or apni pasand ki cheez uthakar wapas apni ‘mat’ ke paas aana hai. Miss ko dekho!!!", (roughly translates to "children you have to walk noiselessly and keep it there and pick out something you would like and place it on your mat. Look how your teacher is doing!!!").
And I was pleasantly surprised, to see Rizwana ma'am tip-toeing dramatically in order to drive home the point that in the activity space everyone has to be quiet. For your information, the audience, consisted of a bunch of three feet tall tiny human beings, myself and my colleague, Pallav. This was the same teacher who often expressed displeasure earlier when students would not listen to her. As she and her co- teacher Afreen ma'am gushed on about the tiny success stories during their three days' stint at using the Montessori Method in the classrooms, my faith in the success of the programme was reaffirmed.
Dr. Maria Montessori was a true visionary who researched and created a whole different educational approach to child development- the Montessori system. This approach thrives by creating a match between the child's natural interests and the available activities. This approach intends to give the child his/ her space and encourages him/her to learn from the experiences created in a Montessori classroom.
Every day, as we passed by the Kindergarten classrooms, we were at loss as to how to bring quality education to these tiny kids who often smiled at us sweetly, beckoning us to play with them. We had neither experience nor expertise in the area of early childhood development. Luckily for us, we chanced upon Mrs. Nandini Prakash from the Indian Institute of Montessori Studies. Her extraordinary levels of knowledge about early childhood development and passion to reach the children who weren't privileged enough to experience this revolutionary educational space blew our minds. She kindly agreed to guide us through the process of setting up a Montessori space and training the teachers to conduct Montessori activity hours.
In their own words,
"The Indian Institute for Montessori Studies was started in 1996 with the main objective of providing quality Montessori teacher training from Bangalore, India. It also aimed to bring back the ideas and methodologies of Montessori as applied to Primary Education, long forgotten in our country. Keeping the basic principles the same, the training program was adapted to suit the needs of the children and teachers here, by adding elements of Indian languages, culture and History."
As I watched these little ones in my school crawl towards their teacher eagerly for approval for a work done well or folding up their mats and screwing up their eyes in concentration, my heart warmed at having such a venture piloted in two of our partner schools.
I am reminded of the fact that children are exceptional ‘workers’. They work till they get perfect at doing something. Have you ever noticed a child trying to climb stairs? S/he will do it once, fall, then try it again and again and again till finally, s/he is able to climb. And s/he would still not stop; rather would come down and climb again till s/he is satisfied and confident about doing it.
For those of you who have supported Mantra through its inception, thank you! We are grateful to you for keeping us in your prayers, for it is that and more, what keeps us going and continues helping us see the programme through its success; and in turn, bring this world class 'adapted Montessori' learning system to 19 other partner schools that we will be working with.
- The blog piece has been written by Ms. Amrutha Krishnan, who works as the School Transformation lead at Mantra4Change.