Wednesday, February 10, 2021

8.6 on the Montessori Richter Scale

According to my trusty AOL news, something happened that made my hard-to-surprise-these-days jaw drop. As follows:


BAD NEWS: At the request of a parent group, the admin of a charter school in Ogden, Utah agreed to offer an opt-out form for parents who didn’t want their children to learn about Black History.


GOOD NEWS: Responding to a public backlash, parents withdrew that request. 


BAD NEWS: Still one wonders why the parents were voting for purposefully propagated ignorance in a SCHOOL and one wonders even further that the administration of that school succumbed to their request. Note: The administrators of a SCHOOL agreed to hide necessary information from their students.


GOOD NEWS: With the request withdrawn, the children (theoretically) will be learning the things they absolutely must know about our history to become functional citizens and educated human beings. 


BAD NEWS: The name of the Charter School? THE MARIA MONTESSORI SCHOOL!!!!!!


I expected to feel an earthquake from Maria turning over in her grave. That school has some serious soul-searching to do. Over a hundred years ago, Maria Montessori had a vision of achieving humanity’s illusive quest for peace and social justice by cultivating it at the root in the way we nurture young children. She writes: 


“Noble ideals and high standards we have always had. They form a great part of what we teach. Yet warfare and strife show no signs of abating. And if education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of humanity's future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual's total development lags behind?”


How aghast she would be to witness not only our failure to develop the whole individual, but to see how far we have descended from noble ideals and high standards. We live in a land where citizens at a Presidential rally cheer for him when he shows he can drink a cup of water without spilling it (yes, that happened). Where after four years of encouraging bigotry, hatred, greed, indifference, lies and accepted of lies as "alternative facts," he exhorts his followers to storm the Capitol Building and threaten the lives of other elected leaders. Where a "mere transmission of knowledge" makes us nostalgic for a time when children were encouraged to learn things and not just make up the reality of their choice. Where a school that should know better endorses purposeful ignorance and makes the blocking of necessary knowledge acceptable— in Montessori’s name!


There’s no hope for the conspiracy theorists and those who have spent their lifetime courting their unearned power and privilege as the moral compass of their every move. But if we are to effect the deep-tissue change we so desperately need, it is the children we must nourish. It is the way we teach them that we must re-consider. It is also what we teach them— the long overdue true story of what happened in this country and why it happened and how it keeps happening because we refuse to know it. 


Here is the rest of Montessori’s quote: 


“…Instead, we must take into account a psychic entity, a social personality, a new world force, innumerable in the totality of its membership, which is at present hidden and ignored. If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men. The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities." 


Maria Montessori School of Ogden, Utah, take note! Those hidden possibilities of each child include ALL children and if you’re white in America and refuse to learn the story of how those possibilities in black children have been relentlessly blocked or ignored through culturally approved and legally sanctioned means, then shame on you. Shame on the administrators, shame on the parents who requested opting out. Take down Montessori’s name and call yourself the Same Old School of White Supremacy. And thank you for the decent people who called them out. But without the inner work, those children who almost opted out will sit in class with their parents' voice in their ear and their minds and hearts unable to receive the knowledge they need. 


Let’s get to work. 

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