Carol reports from Haiti – 13 April 2014

A small step towards Primary School Education
The Centre Montessori d’Haiti is currently conducting a seminar over the course of three week-ends, to introduce Montessori preschool teachers to the math materials used at the primary level. For years parents have been asking “What do we do with our children when they finish preschool?” Although our intention is to eventually open primary schools, we have other pressing matters, such as completing the teacher training center as well as continuing support to the existing Montessori preschools. The current seminar is a small step towards making the primary school a reality by preparing teachers who can teach at that level. Conducting the seminar is Mrs Patricia Gwin from the USA.

Montessori International (AMI/EsF).

The Montessori teacher training and the resulting project-schools initiated by the Peter-Hesse-Foundationin, Haiti, is now a partner-project of Educateurs sans Frontières (EsF)®, (Montessori without Borders©), a division of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) that is dedicated to assisting children through the Montessori approach to education. – See: The Haiti-project was presented by Carol Guy-James Barratt and Peter Hesse (Photo) in the third EsF-congress in Dallas, Texas, in August 2011.

EsF is an organization of individuals who make a meaningful contribution to education by using the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori to help children achieve their full potential as members of society. Members of EsF are committed to working with each other, with communities, other organizations, governments, non-profits and a variety of partners to champion children’s education at home or abroad. Its members are people like you and me who want to make a difference and have a spirit of dedication, integrity and initiative to creating lasting change in the lives of children. EsF provides its members with the chance to change children’s lives by linking people with vast and varied experiences in helping children to flourish in all kinds of communities by applying Montessori principles.

EsF gives its members a chance to take their work to the next level by volunteering, getting support in starting an initiative, donating books or materials, by supporting a child in another country to go to school, or by supporting the training of a Montessori teacher, or by fund raising. EsF recognizes that no effort is too big or too small to contribute towards changing the lives of children for a better and more peaceful world. Educateurs sans Frontieres can help you to make your effort a reality. –

Reaching children in less favorable situations in our ONE world in diversity would also help the realization of the six Dakar Education for All (EfA) goals – excepted by 164 countries in 2000:

  1. Expand early childhood care and education
  2. Provide free and compulsory primary education for all
  3. Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults
  4. Increase adult literacy by 50 % by 2015
  5. Achieve gender parity by 2005, gender equality by 2015
  6. Improve the quality of education

GLOBAL COMMITMENT for child-centered Education for All: The Peter-Hesse-Foundation joins the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in the spirit of AMI’s “Educateurs sans Frontières (EsF)” – Teachers without Borders.

One page PDF

Fighting poverty through Montessori-inspired learning

is not only a vision. It is a proven reality; it works in Haiti. There are not many more unsuitable and unfavorable framework conditions in the world than in Haiti. – But: why is Montessori Early Childhood Education in Haiti a successful model; why does it work?

The answer is relatively simple if you compare what happens in children’s minds in Montessori’s child-centered learning compared to the “traditional” teacher-centered didactics based on repetitive learning by heart of some more or less useful text: Maria Montessori’s conclusions after carefully observing children’s natural way to learn and act led to the individualization of children’s learning speed and learning path from concrete to abstract and obviously is also more joyful for the learning child.

Recent brain-research confirms, that human beings best remember what they learned in a passionate way, what their body, mind and soul absorbed in a holistic way – like in a gentle Montessori environment.
The “traditional” drill-style way to teach in Haiti like in other parts of the developing world is far less touching the child. Drill-style learning is, however not invented in the developing countries; it was imported from Europe – or more precise, from the time when in Prussia former military sergeants were given jobs to teach children. In a Montessori environment children are self-motivated to learn and to use their brain in a more creative way which is a precondition to find practical solutions in life when growing up – including to secure their own income.

This is a first but vital step to fight poverty. We have evidence of children from most simple illiterate family backgrounds in Haiti who have beautifully well developed their potentials up to academic levels. Of course, starting chances in life through qualified education is not the only precondition for success in life. There are political and social framework-conditions which are equally important to break the vicious poverty circle – but without early stimulation of a child’s natural learning mind, body and soul, there is much less chance.

Maria Montessori’s initiating work to improve education already one hundred years ago has today obtained multiple scientific backing by advanced human science, especially by recent brain research. Whether a child’s natural desire to learn is only a result of evolutionary natural development and/or whether there is also some ‘divine touch’ involved in this capacity of a growing human being may still be an unsolved mystery but it is unfortunately a fact that this natural capacity to learn is still a widely untapped treasure, a real potential, a possibility for human development in our ONE world in diversity.

In my early profession as a management trainer and consultant I have learned, it became evident in the teaching process through practical experience that adult learning to be a ‘better manager’ has significant parallels with Maria Montessori’s findings. Since I, of course, wanted to be successful in this new German post-war profession, I avoided simple lecturing in favor of practical playful exercise and group dynamics. Adults who, like children, are self-motivated to learn, are acquiring vital social skills from practice to cognitive understanding, not by dry theory. A manager may understand through reading or lecturing, for example, what goes wrong in one-way communication, how such one-way communication content gets twisted around. To really change such useless habits in favor of successful two-way exchanges is learned in playful games. Experience changes habits, not theory.

We are today at a tipping point of transforming our way to learn and to teach to solve multiple problems in our complex multi-cultural societies in making use of integral learning experience. This includes experiences in fighting poverty through holistic Montessori-style learning versus traditional cognitive transmission of dry theoretical knowledge. We can also wake-up and make use of our our creative instincts to fight poverty through better learning in a large scale reality. To promote change to appropriate framework conditions our elected leaders only need to open their minds to realize humanities learning potential for a peaceful more balanced world.

Even though cultural diversity, of course, influences the content of the newly re-discovered active learning potential of all human beings, practical learning already happens in many ways in our today’s fast changing reality. The skill to use electronic equipment by young children is one example. Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic fields seem to be involved in our cross-cultural reality. This may well speed up large-scale learning processes. The formal school systems, however, do not always follow the newly re-discovered learning potentials. It is time to change this now. A hundred years ago, Maria Montessori set the pace for this global challenge. Now, brain scientists come to comparable conclusions. This may help to reduce political skepticism. This should improve the willingness of educational politics to be part of the needed changing processes.

A strong supporting argument for accepting what Maria Montessori – and modern scientific brain research – found out leading to the need of child-centered processes in large-scale education is that it even works in most deprived situations in the world – like in Haiti.

Peter Hesse
Peter-Hesse-Foundation SOLIDARITY IN PARTNERSHIP for ONE world in diversity.