Montessori Sun Times Fall 2013 : Page 1

A newsletter for The Children’s House community in Traverse City · Summer 2013 By Michele Shane, Head of School Failures ? Bring Them On! “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” -J.K. Rowling As young children, persistence and patience can be readily tapped making these mistakes (aka opportunities) easier to tolerate. But, as we get older, we tend to be more judgmental and perhaps even ashamed or embarrassed when we err, causing us to be far less accept-ing of ourselves than we were as children. Why is this? When does this change? Is that natural “fearlessness of failure” we all have as children simply taught out of us? In a Montessori community, failures are approached with empathy. A young toddler is not asked to step aside and watch as the adult swoops in to clean up spilled milk from the lunch table or paint from the easel. Instead, the child is kindly encouraged and supported in solving the problem for him or herself. This positive approach to error sends a message to the child that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. When a child says something unkind to another out of frustration, he has the opportunity to see the effect his unkind words had by looking into the eyes of his friend to see her emotion for himself. Rather than being punished for his behavior and feel-ing badly about himself, he has the opportunity to express his genuine www.traversechildrenshouse.org This spring at the graduation cer-emony for our 6th year students, I told the story of J.K. Rowling, the extraordinarily successful author of the Harry Potter book series. Rowling is a person who went through many difficult times in her life and, in interviews, speaks openly about the many failures she experienced on the road to success. From living in near poverty to overcoming rejection from 12 different publishers before the first Harry Potter novel found a home, every time Rowling seemingly failed she picked up the pieces and tried again. For her, failure was an opportunity to make things better. Being “friendly with error” is a phrase commonly used in Montes-sori circles. I first heard it when I was taking the Montessori train-ing. In class one day, our trainer encouraged us to guide our future students in perceiving mistakes and errors as opportunities rather than failures—to see each hurdle as a new chance to learn how to do things differently or better the next time. apology and think about what he plans to do the next time he is frustrated. In our “auto correct” and “heli-copter parent” culture, children have fewer opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them; someone is always there to swoop in and fix the problem. Even worse is when the mistake is also admonished in the process, as if the mistake were somehow a failure of the person. As adults, we have the chance to guide our children in recogniz-ing their failures as gifts in disguise—to show them how to be kind to themselves in these situations and how to come up with a better approach next time. Because, regardless of how big or small the failure is, there is always a solution. We can start by taking that same approach with ourselves. Above-In Montesssori classrooms, uninterrupted time is offered to allow children to work on materials at their own pace. Left-Montessori environments are prepared to en-able the children to clean up after themselves.

Failures? Bring Them On

Michele Shane, Head Of School

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” - J.K. Rowling<br /> <br /> This spring at the graduation ceremony for our 6th year students, I told the story of J.K. Rowling, the extraordinarily successful author of the Harry Potter book series. Rowling is a person who went through many difficult times in her life and, in interviews, speaks openly about the many failures she experienced on the road to success. From living in near poverty to overcoming rejection from 12 different publishers before the first Harry Potter novel found a home, every time Rowling seemingly failed she picked up the pieces and tried again. For her, failure was an opportunity to make things better.<br /> <br /> Being “friendly with error” is a phrase commonly used in Montessori circles. I first heard it when I was taking the Montessori training. In class one day, our trainer encouraged us to guide our future students in perceiving mistakes and errors as opportunities rather than failures—to see each hurdle as a new chance to learn how to do things differently or better the next time.<br /> <br /> As young children, persistence and patience can be readily tapped making these mistakes (aka opportunities) easier to tolerate. But, as we get older, we tend to be more judgmental and perhaps even ashamed or embarrassed when we err, causing us to be far less accepting of ourselves than we were as children. Why is this? When does this change? Is that natural “fearlessness of failure” we all have as children simply taught out of us?<br /> <br /> In a Montessori community, failures are approached with empathy. A young toddler is not asked to step aside and watch as the adult swoops in to clean up spilled milk from the lunch table or paint from the easel. Instead, the child is kindly encouraged and supported in solving the problem for him or herself. This positive approach to error sends a message to the child that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.<br /> <br /> When a child says something unkind to another out of frustration, he has the opportunity to see the effect his unkind words had by looking into the eyes of his friend to see her emotion for himself. Rather than being punished for his behavior and feeling badly about himself, he has the opportunity to express his genuine apology and think about what he plans to do the next time he is frustrated.<br /> <br /> In our “auto correct” and “helicopter parent” culture, children have fewer opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them; someone is always there to swoop in and fix the problem. Even worse is when the mistake is also admonished in the process, as if the mistake were somehow a failure of the person.<br /> <br /> As adults, we have the chance to guide our children in recognizing their failures as gifts in disguise—to show them how to be kind to themselves in these situations and how to come up with a better approach next time.Because, regardless of how big or small the failure is, there is always a solution. We can start by taking that same approach with ourselves.

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