Monthly Archives: April 2014
No changes for May! Expect another busy month. We will continue learning about time and money along with our last continent, Africa. We will learn about frogs and insects, too. Some dates to mark on your calendars are the Brown’s Farm Strawberry Picking field trip on May 12, the Mother and Father’s Day Tea on the morning of May 22, and the Kindergarten Bridging Ceremony and Family Picnic on May 23.
Much Love and Many Blessings,
I have noticed that creativity has found little room in the classroom today, and this makes me wonder about the ill-fated effects of removing such an essential skill from center stage. Creativity is pivotal in the development of one’s mind, for without it, the world would simply be lifeless. Inadequate creativity makes one weak, intellectually vulnerable from self-inadequacy. The concept of creativity is intriguing to me, and its standard definition is bipartite: creativity requires both originality and effectiveness. If something is not unusual or unique, then it is commonplace or conventional. It is not original, and therefore not creative. Yet, originality is not sufficient; originality is vital, but must be balanced with fit and appropriateness. Mathematical creativity is the fundamental tool through which all else is not only discovered, but also its very aspects are uncovered, thereby unveiling the vast opportunities that life offers: science, architecture, and bringing learning to life.
Luckily, my upbringing allowed me to unlock the creative side of my brain, the same side of my brain that has made me the man I am today. My upbringing was, in part, composed of a pivotal element: Montessori School. From a very young age, I excelled in mathematics. Montessori allowed me to take full advantage of my newly discovered ability. You see, Montessori’s unique teaching system instructs by way of beads for counting, not solely relying on the conventional pencil and paper combination. The use of a visual aid such as beads unleashed my mathematical creativity; I saw beads in my mind. Thereafter, my mind continually searched for different, novel ways of not only learning, but also applying my mathematical talent. On several occasions at the bank with my mother, she would somewhat lazily ask me to do the adding for her, as though she could not derive the total check balance by her lonesome. Today, I realize that she was only allowing me to utilize my abilities, building my confidence in the process, and therefore enabling a sense of poise, a belief that my creativity had merit (i.e. usefulness, value).
Shortly after attending Montessori School, I took my studies to a slightly different environment: my home. With instruction happily provided by my mother, I began homeschooling. I was given a math book and told to read a lesson, then do the correlating problems; in a way, I was my own teacher, not being told how I must do something, but only being guided by a book. As long as I could machinate correct answers, both my mother and I were content. My mathematical creativity was original and effective: my creative methods expedited and simplified math.
Unfortunately, all eras of greatness must be accompanied by a downfall, a downfall that ensued itself upon me ever so gradually. Come eighth grade year, I enrolled in middle school and, though it was a private school, it was quite different. My math teacher taught rigorously, forcing his students to strictly adhere to the mathematical methods that he thought to be correct. Indeed, no room was left for potential creativity, my potential creativity. At first, I did not detect the issue. I thought it would be easier to merely learn one method of doing things and call it a day. Later, I recognized the dilemma: it is difficult to remember every single method that I have been taught, for I did not discover any of them on my own. Having mathematical creativity stored in my mind was not dissimilar to having a personal mathematical encyclopedia in my mind, always readily available, never causing me to have to search for the lost memories of strictly adhered-to methods. Today, if I had to share my thoughts with my eighth grade math teacher concerning the value, originality, and effectiveness of his teaching, I would be very brief in my wording, “Be more creative.”
In a high-tech and rapidly globalizing economy, proficient education in science and mathematics is more significant than ever. At the same time, high levels of creativity and innovation, most often mistakenly seen as the antitheses of science and mathematics, represent equally important assets. Mathematical creativity, as the stepping stone to scientific creativity, is more essential today than previously imagined; the same old teaching methods are not best for the maturity of the economy. Improved creativity would open new doors not only in the world of science, but also in the macrocosmic world.
The mathematical language is continually being altered to fit new results, to simplify new techniques. Spoken language does not allow for the bending of words to indicate refinement of their old images. Rather, human thought is bent by the accumulated meanings of words. Mathematics is not held bound by this constraint; mathematics is creative in nature. Mathematicians often use their creativity in discovering new techniques and uncovering new possibilities; mathematics is always in a state of creative flux. Thus, like other creative areas of study, including architecture, mathematics allows a great deal of speculative freedom.
Architects are the paradigm of mathematical creativity, exemplifying both originality and effectiveness in their work. Architects use mathematical proportions to shape buildings. They also exemplify applied geometry through their bending of shapes to create architectural greatness in the form of buildings and magnificent cathedrals. With increased attention to the teaching of mathematical creativity in schools, architecture has the potential to excel exponentially, thereby creating a more beautiful world.
Mathematical creativity is the fundamental tool through which all else is not only discovered, but also its very aspects are uncovered, thereby unveiling the vast opportunities that life offers: science, architecture, and bringing learning to life. I plan to take full advantage of the numerous opportunities offered by Birmingham Southern College. When I go to Birmingham Southern College, unlearning mathematical conventionalities will be my principal objective. Figuratively speaking, I will learn to see beads once again; but this time, I will not veer off of the road of my mathematical creativity. Instead, I will continue paving my road until I achieve prominence.
Jacob Mynatt, a former MSH student, would like to dedicate his essay to Dola Ghosh and Kathy O’Reilly. He will be attending the honors program at Birmingham-Southern College next fall.
The second half of the school year is quickly coming to an end. All that the children in our class have learned since the first day of school is now more evident than ever. Morning drop-offs are easier than they were during those first few months, our work cycle has expanded to mirror that of a primary work cycle on most days, the children have achieved a great level of independence in making their own snack and preparing their own lunch with minimal assistance, and they are taking care of their own toileting needs with minimal assistance, as well.
Hello Primary II Families!
The children returned from Spring Break excited to share what they did during their time off and eager to challenge themselves with new work. Our first week back kept us extremely busy preparing our classroom for the annual Multi-Cultural Festival, which turned out to be such a fun afternoon! Thank you to all of the parents who donated items for our Antarctica sensory experience, brought food, and came out to enjoy the day with us. We think the Multi-Cultural Festival (which had the children traveling the world!) was a direct catapult in sparking the children’s interests about the world we all live in. Since the festival, our floor has been covered in maps! It never gets tiresome watching as a child progresses in showing interest in continent work to being able to identify countries, states, and bodies of water.
Last month we attended the American Montessori Conference in Dallas, Texas and we would love to take this opportunity to share a few tidbits about our trip. The entire experience proved to be uniquely amazing and provided us with so many new ideas and connections. Our time together offered great bonding time for us teachers, and we left with a renewed enthusiasm and passion to further the Montessori Movement.
In addition to attending full days of workshops, we were very fortunate to hear the words of some incredible keynote speakers, such as Temple Grandin and Andrew Solomon. The latter, who recently wrote the book, Far From the Tree, was such an inspiration to listen to and became a personal highlight to us both. His book is all about children, parents, and the search for our own identity. We wholeheartedly believe it is a must read for all parents. It will impact you in a way that will encourage you to be not only a more thoughtful parent but also a more compassionate human being. We think this is something valued tremendously amongst our MSH family. Check it out. You won’t be able to put it down!
As always, thank you for all of your support.
Sarah and Monica
We hope that everyone had a great time at the Multicultural Festival! It is always wonderful to see how much the children enjoy preparing for this festival. We are working on real practical life lessons in April and May. The children have started preparing their own snack, and they will be washing their clothes the “old-fashioned way.” In science, we will learn about butterflies, and in math, we will learn about money. A special thank you to the parents, board, and administration for sending us to the AMS Montessori Conference last month. The workshops were very inspiring. It is always a wonderful experience spending time with fellow Montessori teachers. Thank you!