Tag Archives: Montessori Education

Inly Alum Receives Fulbright Scholarship to Spain

HannahKHWe recently caught up with Inly alumnus, Hannah Kaplan-Hartlaub ‘07, who is graduating from Smith College this May. Kaplan-Hartlaub, a Sociology and Spanish double major, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Spain, where she will spend next year teaching English at a high school in Madrid. While not teaching, she will also help coach the high school’s Model United Nations team and conduct an independent community service project through the network of community gardens in Madrid. “ I’ll be working with the Urban Garden Network of Madrid to do an independent community service project,” Kaplan-Hartlaub said, “which marries my interests in experiential learning, community-building, and playing in the dirt—all things I can I trace back to my time at Inly School.”

Hannah’s love of the Spanish language prompted her to study abroad last year at the University of Cordoba and also inspired her to pursue the Fulbright program in Spain after graduation. Fulbright grantees are selected through an open and merit-based competition. This ensures that the most qualified applicants are fairly chosen in a way that contributes to the main goals of the program: to provide overseas experience to individuals not previously afforded such an opportunity and to promote mutual understanding and benefit through contributions to both host and home communities.

From its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which citizens and governments of other countries work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs. The English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs place Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETA’s help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. The age and academic level of the students varies by country, ranging from kindergarten to university level.

When asked about her goals for the program, Kaplan-Hartlaub said,

“Primarily, I aim to teach English for student use with cross-cultural engagement and perspective—in other words, to afford my students the opportunity to explore the world with the facility that English makes possible. I’m also eager to explore the country further and contribute through community service. I hope my volunteering in urban gardens will foster tighter neighborhood community and local connection to the earth, and to begin a dialogue around urban agricultural practices and food culture. This would further my goal of having a true exchange of knowledge and culture with the Madrileña community.”

The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program is sponsored and managed by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Fulbright ETAs are placed in classrooms abroad to assist in strengthening English language instruction, while providing insights on American culture. At the same time, U.S. participants experience intensive cross-cultural interaction in an international educational setting.

Kaplan-Hartlaub reflected that her Inly roots in education “drew out the spirit of exploration” within her:

“While my years at Commonwealth School and then Smith contributed greatly [to this spirit] as well,” she observed, “I always consider Inly to have planted the seed of curiosity. From a young age we worked with teachers and with each other to cultivate our passions, and though the sowing was challenging, the harvest was fruitful and will fortify me during the coming adventures….I hope the Fellowship will allow me to connect further with students and teachers in a new academic setting, and would provide a cross-cultural comparison to inform my interpretations of educational policies in the States upon my return.”

John Hunter and His Montessori Message

A chat with Inly’s head of school about student-centered learning, global awareness and the power of experiential education

John Hunter at Inly School in Scituate MA

John Hunter presents his film “World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements” at Inly School on April 9th

When Donna Milani Luther heard John Hunter speak at the Creative Education Foundation’s annual Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) Conference last summer, she was blown away. “His approach aligned so perfectly with ours, and his message was so compelling, that I immediately knew I wanted to bring him to Inly to meet with our school community. And I wanted other teachers and administrators and parents to share in the experience, too.”

John Hunter will speak at Inly on Wednesday, April 9 as part of the Omran ♦ Nelson Speaker Series. For a full description of the event, see the Inly News story:  John Hunter to Present “World Peace Game” Film and Talk on Hands-On, Experiential Learning.

To purchase online tickets visit the Inly Speaker Series page.

Q: Hunter’s talk is called, “The Schools and Teachers our Students Need Us To
Be.” What does this mean, exactly?

It’s about allowing students to guide their own learning, based on their interests. It’s about teachers and schools allowing students to really take ownership. John’s message is that we all need to focus on how students learn best and then thoughtfully prepare the best type of environment for this success. He asks us to ask ourselves: What are our roles as guides for children in this century?

Q: Hands-on, experiential learning is the focal point of his film, “World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements.” Is this a focal point of his talk as well?

World_Peace_Foundation_Inly_SchoolYes. He firmly believes that experiential education is the most effective way for students to learn, and that’s really the premise of this talk. It’s the best proven way to capture students’ attention and extend their learning and their capacity to stay on a task. As educators we want to see students building skills around interest and content, and we want the learning to be rigorous and challenging and fun.

Q: And can it be rigorous enough, this type of experiential learning?

Oh, absolutely. It’s about teaching from the inside out.

I think that people generally will challenge themselves if they feel like they’re learning and growing. Otherwise they just look to the least common denominator. We see that alive in our school every day and you see that in great schools and in great teachers.

Kids will often keep going if inspired. But when they’re led in a direction that’s rote … that’s ‘sorry, you can’t spend any more time on that because our curriculum maps say you have to do this tomorrow,’ and the child isn’t really interested in going there, they’re really not going to learn nearly as much.

So, yes, I believe it can be rigorous and I believe it’s our job as teachers to stay ten steps ahead to be true guides to help students develop.

Can you speak to the Montessori like aspects of his message? Peace studies and global awareness are two themes that come to mind.

Yes, this is very much the type of cosmic education that Maria Montessori cared about. Understanding our place in the world, figuring out that there are pieces that make up the whole, that we’re all part of that in some way and that our job is to find out how it all fits together… It’s all part of the continuum in a Montessori school.

His approach is very much what we do in Montessori—not only in the content delivery but in the content itself.

The entire World Peace Game is also very Montessori in that it is very hands-on and the teacher really steps back and guides the students to solve the problem on their own. Yes, it is a challenge and it’s a big challenge! World peace is not something you can solve in a day. But he has designed something that’s appropriately long enough for 4th, 5th and 6th graders and designed it to capture their attention and to extend their attention—and extend their thinking and learning and processing and their capacity to stay on a task.

These students are the future designers and inventors and entrepreneurs, the ones who are figuring all this out. I think it’s ingenious and it gives me hope.

 

 

How We Prepare Our Students for Life Beyond Inly

Donna Milani LutherBy Donna Milani Luther, Head of School

In my forty years of teaching, I have taught in a variety of schools and what I appreciate most about Inly (and why I landed so happily here 18 years ago) is that it is a thoughtful, intentional blend of what is developmentally appropriate for children and what prepares children for their future—regardless of what their futures hold.

We know that we are preparing our students for life beyond Inly—for high school and college where they will still encounter traditional measures of academic success, like tests and quizzes. We also know that trends in secondary and higher education are rapidly moving toward flipped classrooms, experiential learning, and more Inly methods of demonstration of mastery, like collaborative projects and presentations. As educators in an ever-changing world, we know that we are preparing our students for jobs that don’t yet exist. That’s why we talk so much about grit—we know our students must be flexible, resilient, and know how to problem solve if they want to stand a chance in their dynamic future.

Montessori “Plus”

As I mentioned in a previous R&N article, Evolving the Montessori Pyramid, at Inly we combine tried and true Montessori methods with other harmonious practices—particularly at the upper elementary level and beyond. I like to call this approach Montessori “plus.”

While Inly’s curriculum is rigorous and benchmarked with the Common Core the “plus” is that we also teach next century skills including communication, creativity, ingenuity, and critical thinking. Through all of these teachings, we try to build each student’s self confidence and love of learning.

Fostering Lifelong Responsibility

Another “plus” at Inly plays out in how we teach our students responsibility. Our students are expected to be on time, manage their schedules, finish homework assignments, take tests and quizzes, and complete research projects. They routinely set goals, keep and refine work plans, and critically reflect on their own progress.  Throughout all of these experiences, children ultimately learn how they best learn, and how to be responsible for their own learning, which is incredibly empowering and something we know they take with them in life.

Entering the Real World

Each step of the Inly journey builds upon itself, and each level brings exponential growth in our students. In our lower levels, students are mastering foundational academic skills, while they are encouraged to wonder and see themselves as part of a family, classroom, and school community. In Upper Elementary, our students expand and apply their academic skills in more challenging projects and explorations, which culminates in a sixth year intensive capstone project, and they begin to engage with their broader South Shore community through their weekly Service Learning curriculum. Once Inly students begin Middle School, the “plus” expands to include additional learning experiences that they are, by this time in their academic career, developmentally ready for. In Middle School, we give our students opportunities to go out into the real world through the Internship Program and our Montessori Model United Nations program. As a capstone experience for our 8th grade students this year, they will also participate in a two week immersion program through NuVu Studio, where they will solve real world problems using applied technology and design. Since Middle School aged children are fascinated with their roles in the larger society, all of these programs are important parts of their exploration of the world. Each of these programs offer authentic work experiences that lead our students to a greater sense of self and respect for others.

Life Beyond Inly

The most common observation I hear parents make of their children after they have graduated from Inly is that are passionate learners. They love the process of learning and take on new learning experiences with an enthusiasm that is unique from their peers. While those who graduate from Inly walk away with the more tangible academic measurements of success, this love of learning is actually the aspect of a student’s experience that is perhaps the most valuable. This sort of passion can be applied to any field of study and any career. It is invaluable. As Maria Montessori once said, “we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.” Our gift to our students as educators is not how many facts we have crammed into our student’s brains but rather how much passion for learning we were able to help them cultivate within themselves.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
– Albert Einstein

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti

What Are the Benefits of a Montessori Preschool?

“There are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed.
– Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

Montessori Preschool Absorbent Mind The Absorbent Mind: The Toddler and Preschool Years

Dr. Maria Montessori coined the phrase “Absorbent Mind” to describe the child’s most crucial developmental stage: the first six years. During decades of scientific observation, she noted the remarkable sponge-like ability of the child to take in new information.

During two stages of the Absorbent Mind period—from birth to age 3, and from age 3–6 —children soak up information from their environment, learning at a rapid rate. Because the unique capacity to learn in this way—and at this rate—lasts for the first six years of life, Dr. Montessori urged educators to take advantage of this critical stage. During this time, she argued, the impressions made on a child’s mind through lessons and the classroom environment are highly formative and can have a lasting impact on their future development.

Many of Dr. Montessori’s scientific theories are now supported by brain research being done today, more than 100 years later.  Based on our own experience over the past 40 years as an innovative Montessori school, we see many of the same benefits every day as children discover the joy and wonder of learning all around them.

5 Benefits of a Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten Program

1. Developmental Approach

The Montessori philosophy behind the Children’s House (preschool and kindergarten) program is based on scientific research into the stages of early childhood development. Designed to meet the developing needs of the three- to six-year-old, the Montessori program makes the most of this period of intense mental activity.

2. Comprehensive Curriculum

The Montessori preschool and kindergarten curriculum is remarkably broad and deep. The curriculum includes Language, Math, Science, Spanish Language, Cultural Studies (history, geography, physical sciences, botany, and zoology), Practical Life, Visual Arts, Music and Movement.  It is designed to help the child build skills and absorb knowledge at an individual pace and provides a solid foundation for elementary school and lifelong learning.

3. Focus and Independence

Making choices and using coordinated movements to accomplish tasks leads the preschool and kindergarten child toward self-regulation and self-control. The Montessori classroom environment and the Montessori method encourage focus, concentration and internal self-discipline.

4. Observation and Problem-Solving Skills

Through their Montessori work, children develop strong observation and problem-solving skills. Encouraged to make decisions from an early age, children in Montessori programs are nurtured to become creative problem-solvers who can make appropriate choices and manage their time well.

5. First Grade Readiness

Students who master the Children’s House Preschool and Kindergarten curriculum are extremely well prepared for the academic, physical, and social work of first grade in Montessori Lower Elementary or traditional elementary schools.

More on the Benefits of Montessori Early Education

Exploring the Benefits of Montessori Early Education (Inly Insights)

Montessori Education and Brain Development: New research validates 100-year-old method (Inly Insights)

The Benefits of Montessori at Inly School

The Benefits of a Montessori Education at Inly School

Montessori Philosophy and Mission at Inly School

Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten at Inly School

To learn more about the Children’s House program at Inly, visit the Preschool and Kindergarten portal on the Inly website:

Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten at Inly

Montessori Education and Brain Development: New research validates 100-year-old method

Dr. Stephen Hughes: Montessori and the Future of Education

Dr. Steve Hughes: Montessori and the Future of Education

VIDEO: Dr. Steve Hughes: "Montessori and the Future of Education"

Throughout our month-long celebration of International Montessori Week here at Inly School, we’ve been digging up our favorite reads and resources on the past, present and future of Montessori.

It’s always reassuring to see the feel-good factor backed up by hard science. This compelling three-minute clip validates what many of us instinctively know about the value of Montessori education.

“Maria Montessori really got everything right… ” reflects Dr. Steve Hughes in the video Montessori and the Future of Education. “She anticipated so much of what we know about neuroscience, brain development, and optimum models of education.”

A pediatric neurologist and Montessori parent, Hughes has been spreading the word for years. Take time to watch some of his later videos [see Resources below] for some fascinating insights and recent findings.

Choice quotes on Montessori from Dr. Hughes:

“A skillful Montessori teacher knows what stage a child is in their brain development and they are meeting it, and they are feeding it.”
“The Montessori method is like education designed by a pediatric developmental neuropsychologist.”
“If we decided that the purpose of education should be to help every child’s brain reach its highest developmental potential, we would have to radically rethink school. The task seems insurmountable, yet this work has already been done. In fact, it was done over a hundred years ago.”
“When examined through the lens of environmental enrichment and brain development, Montessori education presents a radically different – and radically effective – educational approach that may be the best method we’ve got to ensure the optimal cognitive, social, and emotional development of every child.”

Dr. Steven Hughes, Ph.D, President, American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology

Read more about Montessori education, cognitive development and brain research:

Inly School: Why Montessori?

Building Better Brains: The Neurological Case for Montessori Education

Dr. Steve Hughes: “Why Start with Montessori?”

Dr. Steve Hughes’ Website: “Good at Doing Things”

Montessori for Everyone Blog: “The Neurology of Montessori”

Montessori and Brain Research: Moving Forward