Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Erica Burger, from Jabulani: Rural Health Foundation did a presentation on the work that Jabulani has been doing. All Jabulani programmes support Montessori principles and are all interlinked to serve the community. In the Zithulele village, Jabulani has created the following initiatives: General hospital support which hosts an ARV and TB programme, making chronic medication more accessible. Community based inclusive development which includes home visits where families are trained to work with cerebral palsy people and children with special needs. The livelihood supports people with disability, enabling these people to provide for their families by teaching them skills that can result in job creation or employment. ECD in the home, assists parents by enabling them to be involved with practical life activities through home visits. Montessori training in ECD centres ensures quality, holistic education for the community. The Jump Start initiative provides developmental skills for men who couldn’t complete their schooling, with mentorship provided by older men who teach skills and offer support. Erica concluded with the statement, ‘attitudes are contagious, is your attitude worth catching?’
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Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Designer of Educational Spaces, Benjamin Stahli from Switzerland ended the presentations for the day on Montessori Architecture Patterns. Benjamin spoke of the idea Arthur Waser’s notion of a blueprint for Montessori buildings. Upon observing Montessori schools globally, Benjamin noticed that although each building appeared to have nothing in common, he began to notice patterns between each building. One of these patterns were that the majority of the main entrances were east facing. This allowed children entering the school in the morning with a school bathed in sunlight, giving off positive energy. Benjamin pointed out that the project should cover all 4 planes of development and he looked at examples from at least 3 different continents. Benjamin broke down 28 patterns of Montessori architecture patterns.
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Monday, 13 August 2018
Philip O’Brien lead the morning presentation on Working Towards a Sustainable Future. Philip began his presentation by asking participants to answer a 13 question survey with multiple choice answers. To the surprise of many of the participants, the answers were more positive and less dire than anticipated. Successes that have been achieved are a reduction in extreme poverty; undernourishment; primary school enrolment rate, the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, the under 5 mortality, maternity mortality and access to sanitation and water. Aside from these successes, the gap between richer and poorer however, has grown bigger. The gaps in literacy and economics continue to grow. In the primary level, there are more girls out of school and when it come to post primary schooling, there are more boys out of school. In Sub-Saharan Africa, girls are at a higher disadvantage when it come to schooling. Philip spoke about the action plan for the future. Eradicating poverty was discussed, with some views that poverty is relative. Eradicating poverty remains a huge concept. We reviewed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. One of the topics raised was that the youth are disillusioned about democracy and are therefore stepping away from it. In order for sustainability to be achieved, the three dimensions of the SDG’s need to meld together and be harmonised. These dimensions are social, economic and environmental. The consensus is that by fulfilling the 4th SDG, the other 16 could be achieved. The goal to ensure inclusive education, quality education and to promote lifelong learning for all is the key. Through education, poverty and mortality can be reduced. Gender Equality will result in 1.5 million less child marriages and through education, nutrition awareness could result in up to 40% less stunted growth for children. Although accountability starts with the government, we are all accountable. Our role is to hold governments accountable in education particularly. Ways to hold the government accountable is through elections, social movements and dissemination of information on education. Philip ended his presentation by urging each participant to take up their role in making a difference, with a change being a simple as picking up a piece of plastic bag and not being wasteful with food. He closed off with the statement that our Montessori voice is not heard frequently or loudly enough and we are the ones that need to change that. Lynne then added that waste of human potential is the biggest waste of all. Our children are the agents of change and we are their advocates.
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Monday, 13 August 2018
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Saturday, 11 August 2018
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Saturday, 11 August 2018
Edwina Mulcahy gave a presentation focussing on the Ballymun Community book project. While volunteering for a literacy programme, Edwina was left deeply shocked by what she saw in disadvantaged schools. Her observation was that on the disadvantaged side of the city, children had no access to authors or books in their school programmes. On the other side of the city where the more advantaged where, these things were readily available. Edwina gave some background context on the Ballymun community, consisting of large counsel flats that people were at first keen to reside in but soon lost interest as they realised that there were no options available for them there. The residential area then deteriorated at a rapid pace, with children being lured into selling drugs at an early age. Edwina played a short video clip where the challenges that the underprivileged faced in the community were highlighted. Edwina started the book project, consisting of an anthology of children’s writings and illustrations. Every child that was a part of the book project contributed by writing or illustrating. The children received many educational benefits from the book project, including literacy development, leadership, generation of ideas and hidden talents being realised. On a more social level, the whole school was involved, including parents and guardians. Possibilities of receiving third level education became a reality to these children for the first time. Edwina is incredibly proud of what the boys have achieved and delights in sharing their successes with the world.
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Saturday, 11 August 2018
Lumin Education Family Therapist, Stan Ferguson gave the first presentation for the day, with the theme The Child in the Family. Stan opened his presentation with the statement that part of the prepared environment is the prepared person as we are in relation to the environment. Stan spoke about his involvement with the Lumin Bachman Lake Community School. The school hosts a majority of Hispanics. 90% of the families are economically challenged, 30% of which are below the poverty line. Out of 200 children, 160 are enrolled in the pregnancy to 3 years programme. This school understands the urgency of education and awareness within the first years of life. The pregnancy to 3 years programme focuses on starting young and involving parents. Parents are encouraged to enter a collaborative relationship with the school in raising the children. This has proven to have a positive effect on the support, investment and involvement that parents have with the school. The Early Years programme focuses on parent knowledge, training and weekly home visits for around 90 minutes with the trained adult and parents. Challenges facing this community are poverty, lack of documentation for migrants in the community and the real concern of being deported and the uncertainties of the repercussions that this may have on children and families. Stan concluded his presentation with an emotional reading from his book ‘What Parent’s Need to know About Children.’ Leaving the participants to comprehend the importance of trying to be the best listener that we can be. By listening to someone’s story, we take on part of their story. By listening in earnest to the migrant families that Stan has worked with, he continues to strive to offer the best support and help to parents and teachers, enabling parents to be teachers for their children during the first years.
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Saturday, 11 August 2018
Helen Mohan Elias started off her presentation, Conviction: Community Rooted in Education with a prayer offering. Helen explained that after the 5th EsF Assembly held in Hyderabad, India in 2016, the Hyderabad participants were moved to come together to find a way to make a difference. She spoke of the orphanage that was adopted by the Telengana Minority Residential Educational Institutions Society. Helen described how when she first met the children they were in poor physical condition, with skin lesions, dirty clothing and dirty bodies. The day before the school opened, the children were all taken for hair cuts, bathed and provided with clean clothes and new shoes. In spite of the media attention, the children appeared starved for education and at once entered the environment and began to explore the material within the environment, completely oblivious to the media hype that was taking place. So absorbed were these children that they did not even appear to notice the teachers in the environment. Helen spoke of how challenging it was in the first month, with nobody willing to work with the children. The children would often come across as abusive and violent, using abusive and foul language at first. It became obvious that although the children had received physical nourishment, they were sorely lacking in psychic nourishment. With perseverance, the teachers noticed that after a month, the children were ready to begin receiving presentations of the materials in the environment. Within two months of the school opening, the district wanted to showcase the school and show the difference. Helen was initially concerned as the children had not been working with material for sufficient time and although she could clearly see the changes in each child, she was worried that these changes would not be satisfactory. To her surprise, the officials were so shocked by the drastic changes that they witnessed in the children, at first not believing that these were the same children. The huge change was not only in appearance, but in happiness and confidence too. Helen shared the action plan for minority residential schools, with the focus being on setting up an elementary environment and training teachers. Helen left us with the thought that often we mistake education for reading, writing and responding when in a group, forgetting that education is also about peace and building up a peaceful community.
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Thursday, 9 August 2018
Neuroscientist Dr Adele Diamond gave the first presentation of the day. The theme was ‘Not Just Some of the Children, All of the Children'. Adele introduced the El Sistema music initiative. El Sistema is programme that comes together to make community and raise children up through music. Some children who do not do well academically, thrive once they are reached through music, having success at playing an instrument often results in overall well being and the children thrive. In impoverished communities, instruments are made out of recycled material. These instruments result in the Recycled Orchestra, the goal being to change the life of disadvantaged children. The Social/Youth Circus was brought to light, here children are given a chance to express themselves regardless of age, gender, body type, race, experience or skill, all are welcome with complete acceptance. Another initiative, QUATPROPS was demonstrated, juggler Craig Quat has introduced a program that makes juggling accessible to all. Moving the art of juggling from a vertical plain to a horizontal plane allows anyone to experience juggling which has many benefits overall, specifically when building neurological pathways. Adele then brought up Executive Functions. These functions are used for everything needed to pay attention and to focus. The three core executive functions that she spoke about were inhibitory control, working memory and cognitive flexibility. She discussed ways to strengthen and exercise these executive functions and what factors have negative effects on executive functions.
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