I showed a friend of mine our school’s new Mission, Vision and Core Value statement awhile back. She took exception to the word “stewardship” in our Vision statement. She said it didn’t work because that word has to be attached to something, that it is not a stand-alone word. She wanted to know if we meant academic stewardship? Environmental stewardship? What kind of stewardship? This was my response:
Everything in Montessori builds from something basic. The materials, the works, language, math, geography, the big ideas – everything. They all start in a simple place and build up and out. One of the first things is self-care and practical life activities. Children are taught the correct way to wash their hands at 18 months old, how to sweep their crumbs off the table after they eat, etc. Maria Montessori was really into the idea of respect. So this early self-care is self-respect.
The children are also taught to use the Montessori works correctly, because these materials must be cared for and respected. When children do a work on the floor, they also grab a little rug to work on. The rug defines their space in the room. That space is respected by the other students and teachers. They learn at an early age that they can’t go tromping all over someone else’s workspace. The children are also given an uninterrupted work time of two to three hours. This time is respected as the children’s time to design their learning for the day uninterrupted by the adults in the room.
So all this respect in theory – and it seems to be so in practice at our school – turns into respect that the children then learn to show their teachers, their classmates, people in general, their stuff, others’ stuff, their time, others’ time, their environment, inside and out. THAT is what we mean by “stewardship” – that as a community we promote the idea that our children will be good stewards of all things in their care, because that seems to be one of the by-products of our school. Our children seem to have a natural affinity for caring and taking care of people, places, things, ideas, time. That is why I love our school so.
Montessori Co-op Parent