This season when the Pre-Primary Orientation for ILM tiny tots rolled around, we decided to give our vocal cords and demonstrations a rest. Instead we embraced the power of “doing in contemplation”.
Our institute values constant improvement. And this applies to helping parents understand the true magic, potency and effectiveness of the Montessori paradigm. Words can only do so much.
And we wanted the realisations to hit home and hit deep.
We wanted the parents to transform from passive observers who familiarize themselves with our teaching techniques and administrative policies into hands-on participants who fully appreciate the Montessori environment, the uniqueness of the methods used to impart knowledge and the good it can do to their children by keeping the spirit of learning alive.
We accomplished this through the aptly titled “Silent Journey”.
What’s a Silent Journey?
The essence of a Silent Journey is turning ILM parents into children for a day.
It’s to give them the chance to engage in all the activities that their wards will on a daily basis – but in utter and complete silence. So that the Aha moments and epiphanies that come from the interactions can be sensed not just with the mind – but with the spirit and the heart.
Guardians have the ability to choose the Montessori materials that look the most appealing to them and work with it – sometimes following detailed instructions, sometimes to the rhythm of their whims – before moving on to the next.
The only caveat – No words can be spoken.
Witnessing the Silent Journey:
The Parents came in on the appointed day and were apprised of the instructions they had to follow:
1. Walk silently to the “Montessori Environments”
2. Leave your footwear in the designated place.
3. Keep put mobiles on silent and deposit the handbags in the Art corner.
4. Observe the environments SILENTLY.
5. A selection of Montessori Materials are placed on the floor. Please choose a material and begin work based on the instruction slips placed on the mats.
6. Some materials state – Do it yourself. For these you need to give your creativity a free rein and explore the possibilities.
7. Others have step by step instructions. Kindly read through them and perform the activity as suggested.
8. If any material says ask for a presentation you can raise your hands and a Montessori Adult (i.e. Teacher) will come to assist.
9. Once you finish engaging with a particular material, kindly place it on the mat just the way you found it.
10. Please avoid stepping on mats as you move.
11. Once the bell rings, wind up and silently move to the lawn area.
12. If the rules are broken, you will experience a “Time Out” just as children do.
Time just flew. People stuck to what was requested of them and covered most of the materials in the 90 minutes.
When the bell chimed, they filed out into the lawn and it was our turn to fall silent. We didn’t want to miss any of the reflections. That’s the best part of an Orientation!
The Silent Journey Struck Many Chords
As teachers we had apprehensions around how the attempt would be received. But seeing the parent engrossed in their work – we might even dare to say that they enjoyed the process.
Here are a few highlights which enriched our perception of just how different (and ingenious) the Montessori method seems to the uninitiated.
Montessori Materials are more than what meets the eye:
Parents admitted that at first glance some of the items – such as the Cylinder Block and the Stamp Game, seemed simple, even childish to them. In fact they didn’t even attempt these. Yet eventually they were drawn to it. And when they did give them a go – they were pleasantly surprised by the comprehensively challenging nature of the tasks.
With the Cylinder Block presentation, they actually felt their own sense of dimensions and comparisons improve and could sense how with regular use children will mature in terms of such distinctions.
The Stamp Game wowed them with the concept of “addition with objects” and many concurred – students wouldn’t have an issue with math and will confidently add into the thousands before Kindergarten is up.
Khyathi’s mother, Mamatha felt that Montessori is a very creative, practical system that kindles a love for experiential learning. She saw a lot of value in the focus on logical understanding.
Samitha’s father loved the ambiance of the school and appreciated the fact that rote mugging took a back seat to interactive, Kinesthetic education.
A Grand Success
In a Montessori environment learning happens spontaneously and the knowledge from one class is reinforced in others. This is why children often have a hard time distinguishing work from play and between the disciplines of Focus, Concentration, Patience and Math, Language, Science and Culture! And when parents query, “What did you do at school today?” – their reply is often “Nothing much.”
Hopefully after embarking on the Silent Journey those who trust ILM with the futures of their kids will know that a World of Learning can take place in that simple “Nothing”.