Time for another Kalki quiz! Does anyone know the woman in this picture? Here's the hint: on this date in 1907 she opened a school in Italy pioneering a new form of education! Anyone?
Why it's Maria Montessori of course! Some of my Indian readers may even know her work considering she spent seven years living there between 1939 and 1946. I myself benefited from her methods since I attended a school bearing her name until grade two.
Maria believed that children learn best when they are allowed to learn what they want to learn within a loosely set structure at a pace that feels comfortable to them. She also felt children should simultaneously learn difficult subjects like geography and important life skills like household chores at a fairly young age.
For example, I still remember that when I was just a small boy in kindergarten, I not only learned the name of every country in the world along with their capital cities but I also learned how to iron my clothes while keeping one hand behind my back!
But this post is not just about how much I loved the gifts I received from Maria's wisdom... because we find ourselves once again at a crossroads in the field of education.
Some of you may already know that I happen to be substitute teaching here in Shambhala and I have learned during my work that while most young people prefer being in person, there are some who found that staying at home was actually better for them.
So what will things look like once the pandemic is over?
My hope is that there is yet another revolution in education, perhaps of the kind that Maria could have only dreamed of. Can we do a hybrid of in-person and online, and more importantly, can education be further catered towards the needs of the individual... in the same way that my kindergarten teacher catered his program to me?
I think it's possible... do you?