We are delighted to announce that Glebe Montessori School (GMS) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this academic year! GMS’ reputation for its high standards and child-centered learning, offering the best in a Montessori education for students of toddler age through Grade Six, is a testament to its success and longevity! Scientific evidence today continues to validate Dr. Montessori’s discoveries and philosophy. We thank the vast number of families who have valued a Montessori education at GMS for their children during the past 20 years.
GMS will open its doors to current and former students and their families, and the general public on Friday, June 10th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to celebrate this landmark. The independent film, “Freedom: A Child’s Dream,” produced by senior students will be premiered. Innovative projects prepared by our junior students, classroom tours, an international art exhibit and a silent auction in support of refugees sponsorship organization FACES will highlight this evening. Chef Scott Adams’ culinary delights will no doubt add flavour to the occasion.
GMS staff and students look forward to hosting this community event at Glebe Montessori School, 650 Lyon St. South, Ottawa and hope to see you there! Please contact us if you have further questions at 613.237.3824.
The Dark Side of Sleep
By Dijana Bate, Glebe Montessori School Founding Director
A wealth of information is being brought to our attention as modern technology is further unveiling the mystery of sleep. Chronic and intermittent sleep disorders affect millions and are linked to depression, hypertension, digestive problems, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, lowered immune system and countless other medical conditions. Sleep problems can result from various factors, ranging from excess light exposure and modern pervasive electronic devices distracting us from sleep to physical, medical and psychiatric issues. Even one hour less of sleep ostensibly takes a toll on us. New studies reveal that the cumulative effects of sleep deprivation – or “sleep debt” – causing changes in brain activity and increased stress hormone levels cannot easily be reversed with extra sleep later.
By Dijana Bate, Founding Director of Glebe Montessori School
While nearly every aspect of our lives is changing, our current education system, for the most part, remains stagnant and is “at risk”, according to Harvard Innovation Education Fellow Dr. Tony Wagner. “Our schooling culture has turned us into “compliance-driven, good little consumers of information– a passive learning model. Innovative learning cultures are cross-disciplinary and teach about creating, not consuming.”
A Montessori program is based on self-direction, non-competitive and cooperative activities that help a child develop a strong self-image, high levels of academic and social competence, and the confidence to face challenges with optimism. Encouraged to make decisions at an early age, Montessori educated children are problem-solvers who can make appropriate choices, manage their time, and work well with others.
Like the philosopher-king in Plato’s Republic – always part of my Intro syllabus – I’m going to lay down seven laws about education. This ideal might never be realized, but maybe it can help move the debate along.
1. Education is a public trust
This may seem obvious in a country where postsecondary education is publicly funded, there is no legacy system to benefit the scions of wealthy graduates and tuition remains low. But the rhetoric of education has never been so dominated by the reductive logic of return on investment, of tuition traded for jobs.
This reduction is perhaps inevitable in a moment of economic uncertainty. What is not inevitable is the assumption that the only other possible value of education is purely personal, a kind of luxury good of the mind. Job-training centre – or mental spa.
No. Liberal education is about citizenship, not job training or simple personal enrichment – though it may incidentally provide both. Postsecondary institutions should be in the business, primarily, of creating critical, engaged citizens. This is not the current dominant view; it is nevertheless the correct one.
2. The world changes rapidly, but speed is not itself a value
Important social institutions combine innovation with tradition, sustaining past achievements as living ideas. Change and novelty should never be pursued for their own sake, or because the world at large is driven by them. This isn’t nostalgia.
We philosophers don’t value Plato because he has been around so long; he has been around so long because he’s valuable. Whenever I lecture about his analogy of the cave, for example, whether in a campus lecture theatre or at a downtown men’s shelter, it’s the vivid depiction of political deception that matters, not that it was written in Greek.
3. The most important skill is critical thinking
We say this a lot but don’t do much about it. Here’s what we need: courses in informal logic, so students can recognize fallacies in public discourse; in economic theory, since economists think they rule the world, and politicians believe them; and in computer programming, because you can’t see the biases of the system unless you know how it was coded.
Also, the widespread view that technology is value-neutral, inevitable and always here to help, needs to be exposed as the dangerous ideology it is.
4. Okay, what else?
Well, the basics: history, philosophy, world religions, political theory, mathematics and literature. But also social justice, community service, languages, media criticism, diversity awareness and etiquette. (Stop looking at your phone while you walk!)
On the ancient Greek model, music, art, architecture and physical activity also belong. And why not some life-skills training while we’re at it: cooking, banking, public speaking, relationships. Some things are too important to be left to chance, advice columns or roommates.
5. Great – now, how do you teach all this?
Traditionally, for the most part. Sitting together in groups, with a shared text before us, still works as well as it did two millennia ago. And many innovations, such as flashy PowerPoint slides or “clickers” that rate instant comprehension, are just gadgets. Gadgets can be fun, but they are no substitute for reading, writing and discussion. (Also, see 3, above.)
Liberal education is a conversation, not a data transfer that might be accomplished as well online. That conversation starts in a room, with other people. It can even be a large room, if the professor is engaging and enthusiastic.
6. Socrates was right: The unexamined life is not worth living
This holds for societies as much as for individuals. More knowledge is better than less, wisdom is its own reward, and society as a whole benefits from an educated citizenry.
7. I know: you’ll say I’m gazing at the stars
Yes; but sometimes that’s exactly what we need to find our way.
Mark Kingwell teaches at the University of Toronto and has won its President’s Teaching Award. His latest book is Unruly Voices.
Globe and Mail, Oct. 14/12