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Education - The Most Potent Tool for Transformation of the Human Condition

Thursday, November 9, 2017

According to Dr. Montessori, education should ideally involve the unfolding of the human spirit, the gradual realization of the innate potentialities of each individual over time. As Montessori educators we are truly privileged to witness and support this unfolding and all of its positive transformative powers each day. My favorite moments, often seemingly small ones, are those of realization that a child has just revealed some aspect of his or her development that had not previously been noted, for example, the moment when a three-year-old who has asked for help getting her lunchbox into her backpack every day, one day simply completes this task by herself, with steadfast focus and utter concentration. Or the moment when an elementary student, who has been struggling a bit with math, says, “You know, math is really cool sometimes.”  We witness seismic moments of transformation as well: a child discovering that he can read, a student managing her way through a complex social issue and feeling satisfied that “in the end, everyone won”.

On a broader scale, Dr. Montessori believed education to be the most potent tool for transformation of the human condition, the child offering the greatest hope and potential for such change.   At Summit we are highly aware of the importance of our students leaving us not only with strong academic and social skills (and these are hugely important!), but also with a mindset and a commitment to make a difference in the world.  We are a “global facing” school.  This becomes increasingly evident through the programs in which our older students, particularly those in the Upper Elementary class, participate. As examples, these programs include the Montessori Model UN (held yearly in NYC; our sixth graders attend) and several days of residential environmental study at Nature’s Classroom in Kingston, RI each fall.

A New Element in Our Global Studies Education

This year we are adding an exciting new element to our global studies program, one that unites our focus on technology as a powerful tool for learning and communication, with our emphasis on environmental science and problem solving. The program, called Level Up Village, offers our students the opportunity to communicate directly with students in a school in another part of the world (our partner school is in Zimbabwe) in order to study a significant environmental issue (the world water crisis), and through technology to join minds in order to create tangible solutions.

The UE students have spent several weeks studying the world water crisis and how it affects people in all parts of the world.  Perhaps you have run into one of these students carrying gallon jugs of water up and down the stairs in order to directly experience what it feels like to have to carry water for many miles so that one’s family will have access to safe drinking water. 

Conducting Water Related Education Experiments

The students have also made short introductory videos in which they share information about themselves to students in our partner school, becoming “digital pen pals”. The videos have been edited and uploaded, and are ready to be exchanged with those from our partner school. The next step, once the students know each other, will be to spend five weeks in routine interaction as they work to create small solutions which may have a large impact. We are very excited about this new journey! We will keep you posted as it evolves over the next month and a half.

Warm regards,
Martha Torrence
Head of School