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After 6 years online with Montessori I've seen a lot of things. One that stands out the most is the connection between Montessori and Microsoft. Montessori and Microsoft, you ask? Yep. It works like this:

There are M schools and communities that form, grow, and are engaged in ways that are familiar to most of us. Private schools, public schools, small 3-6 centers that have evolved... see their websites, visit their facilities, read of their reflections on peace/ed reform/parent training/admin issues/homework, you name it: North America, South America, Canada, Europe -- you probably are familiar with their successes and challenges. They are likely very much like your own.

Then there's the other world of Montessori. It's made up of homeschoolers who might be neighbors, small M schools in poorer urban or rural neighborhoods, and practitioners in outlying places like Romania, China, Malaysia and South Africa. Some can't get a copy of The Montessori Method, period, nevermind materials or shelves. Theirs are very different challenges.

Here's the connection between Mont and Microsoft:

First, I think that as a movement we tend to foster the notion -- or at least don't very actively discourage it -- that ours is the only way to educate, that Maria discovered something unique, that it can't be done but one or two ways. This is a lot like Microsoft's proprietary ownership of its operating system. It's time for this to change, I think. It's time to open-source Montessori, like shareware or Linux. Make every album available, every lecture available and translated, every piece of Montessori ephemera accessible to everyone. This will result in a truly useful, up-to-date, and bomb-proof method. One that doesn't crash. One that isn't bloated. One whose owners don't get rich while users are forced to pay for upgrades. Ok, enough with that analogy. <chuckle>

Here's the other connection, but it's a dissimilarity: Bill Gates donates more money to charity than the top 5 industrialized nations of the world. It's past time for official M organizations to step up and promote this method by aggressively supporting it in places of need. I mean *really* supporting it. The charitable and thoughtful proliferation of Montessori around the world should be the most highly visible activity they engage in.

Ok, signing off for now. Thanks for listening. And Bob -- this is so very cool. Thanks for emailing me.

Warm Regards,

Don Jennings ([email protected])

Topsfield, MA USA

The Montessori Teachers Collective


would add that OpenSpaceTechnology, as a meeting methodology and overall approach to being in organization has never been licensed, patented, trademarked or whatever. initiator harrison owen has always said that open space is free, we live in it, anybody with a good head and a good heart can use OpenSpaceTechnology, and all he and the rest of us who give it all away have ever asked is that people come back and tell their stories, so that the learning can continue. see OpenSpaceTechnology for the public, volunteer and donated websites where OST is given away. see also that OST has been used on all seven continents and basic descriptions been translated into a dozen languages, all without any marketing budget or formal organization beyond a global listserve and upstart communities of practitioners around the world. sounds a lot like what you are suggesting, don, and in my experience has been most effective, globally. --MichaelHerman

My 30 year connection with Montessori practice and 4 year connection with Open Space meetings have blended beautifully together as an ideal of what the future world of human learning and interaction can be. Together, with open dialogue, a sense of equality, purpose, and passion, the work we do in the classrooms and in our gatherings are a model that promotes the better nature and capabilities of humanity. That model needs exposure. For those who attended the Ft. Lauderdale conference with apprehension about their own ability to make the meeting valuable without 'expert' presenters, I applaud your participation and thank you for your appreciative, positive, and constructive comments regarding the process in the closing circle on Sunday. It was immensely gratifying to witness the camaraderie, the joy, the flow of the entire conference. Thanks to all who helped kick off these current conversations. It has been a labor of love to help get them started. Take some time to 'play with the Wiki' and keep the dialogue alive.

There are many projects ahead of us where we can make a difference. Look for movement from the Peace Committee of AMS, the Peace Academy and the International Montessori Council in the near future to help put Montessori's basic values and principles before the community at large. -- BobBates

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Last edited February 21, 2003 6:52 am USA Pacific Time (diff)