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I am constantly pondering the overwhelming privilege of being a Montessori grandmother. What a joy to be able to have the time to really notice the Montessori philosophy in action. I am sure that my contemporaries will agree that when raising our own children, we were so focused on them and too closely connected to be able to give enough attention to what we learned in our Montessori lectures! I also think that (and I may be speaking just for myself here) I was too young in my own Montessori practice and too Montessori-inexperienced to really value the philosophy as much as I do now. I have now witnessed those sensitive periods unfold before my eyes, and experienced how the human tendencies are revealing themselves everyday in different ways.

All of these ponderings have caused me to come to the conclusion that developing our Montessori-ness truly is a three-period lesson that we will all experience during our careers. I think that I first heard this from David Khan in 2008, but it did not really resonate with me at the time. It was my granddaughter who reminded me that Montessori is a journey and not a destination.

First Period
This is Montessori. I signed up, got the books, did my assignments, passed my exams and voila, I had been introduced to the concept Montessori.

Second Period
Show me Montessori. With the ink still drying on my Diploma, I was ready to convert everyone who would listen. Parents, peers and people in the queue at the bank (remember this was in the olden days!). I could show Montessori well. I also consider myself really lucky that I did not have my future-me asking questions that were too tricky!

Third Period
What is this? I am now at that point where I am looking at my practice, and the practice of the teachers at my school and schools where I consult and am constantly asking, “What is this? Is this Montessori? Can the practice be reflected on in such a way that we can do better because we know better?”

This is an ongoing lesson, and I often find myself going right back to that first period, because I feel like I need to revisit the actual essence of the method, by reading Montessori’s books, attending webinars and refreshing my own practice in order to move once more through the second stage and third stages.

Our work as Montessori teachers, observers and reflectors is relentless and yet at the same time, so rewarding.

As Montessori said in Education and Peace, ‘The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind’.

With this responsibility placed at our feet, I feel that revisiting this three-period lesson regularly is vital.


-Heidi van Staden-