Archive for the ‘Catechesis of the Good Shepherd’ category

Feast of St. James

October 18, 2011

“One who desires to be a teacher must have an interest in humanity that connects the observer more closely than that which joins the biologist or zoologist to nature.”   –Maria Montessori

My son, Liam, fishes during our summer vacation at Block Island

[This post was written on July 25. I didn’t  finish it at the time, but I am determined to get back into writing my blog, so I decided the first step is to go back and finish what I started.]

Today is the feast day of St. James the Apostle. It has been a very long time since I have written in my blog. Perhaps that demonstrates the kind of year I had last year. Very little time available for reflection. I hope to change that this year, and I hope the Feast of St. James helps me in that quest.

James walked with someone who promised him the truth. He followed someone who taught with authority but who used all sorts of creative ways to teach. He spent time with a storyteller who enthralled his listeners. He lived with a person of compassion whose integrity inspired greatness. Because of his exposure to this unique person, James was inspired to continue the work even after the charismatic leader was gone.

James was inspired by the teacher and the teacher in return loved the student. The teacher most likely didn’t make James memorize facts and figures, but the teacher allowed him to grasp new concepts by walking alongside the student and providing an environment wherein James could thrive.

The path is ours, together. The idea that the teacher is the only one in the room with something to contribute is, of course, not the case; the teacher is a member of a learning community whose particular task it is to inspire and entice the student to greatness. Maria Montessori didn’t expect (and didn’t desire) teachers to be the one and only resourcce for knowledge, opening up brains and inserting facts and figures. She intended the teacher to be a lover of humanity who desires to create an environment that is life-giving and allows the child to thrive.

St. James was lucky to be able to spend time with such a compassionate teacher. It is my hope that our children may experience even a fraction of that compassion so they may be inspired to a greatness of their own.

Montessori training

July 13, 2010

“What is the greatest sign of success for a teacher transformed? It is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.'” -Maria Montessori

I just heard from one of our guides, who is training in Montessori adolescence in Cleveland, OH. She is working with David Kahn, one of the Montessori movement’s major thinkers on Montessori and adolescence. She wrote to me about how much she is enjoying her training, and how inspired she is to return and work with our children.

Training for Montessori is an opportunity for a person to learn not only the nuts and bolts of the method and the materials, but it is to touch the very heart of this approach to lifelong learning, and to be enlivened and inspired to create a new kind of world. It is transformational.

Each summer at Good Shepherd, someone is training somewhere, whether in New York or in Houston or in Cleveland or Columbus. Some of our faculty are training in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, either here in South Bend or in other parts of the country. The ongoing training makes our school a vibrant place for lifelong learning. New ideas are generated and shared, and the lively conversation remains at the highest possible level, challenging and encouraging.

There are many Montessori training centers, and each has its own unique character and emphasis, but at the core, the very heart of each of the training centers is a love  for the child and a clear understanding that the child represents the human potential itself. It is our gift, our privilege, and our responsibility to engage that human potential and set it free with the confidence that great things will come.

Sofia Cavalletti

June 5, 2010

“The child will be our teacher if we know how to observe.”
— Sofia Cavalletti

We have learned that Sofia Cavalletti is dying in Rome. A Hebrew and scripture scholar, Sofia collaborated with Montessorian Gianna Gobbi to develop the Montessori-based “Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.” Since its very humble beginnings in 1954, the Catechesis has spread to at least thirty-five countries. What an impact one life has had.

The words that have been on Sofia’s lips as she prepares for death are the words of the Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is One!”

Countless children (including our students) have encountered the blessing of this woman’s life work, and countless adults have experienced the profound, peace-filled impact of observing in respectful awe the child’s encounter with this blessing.

Thank you, Sofia.