Saturday, February 12, 2005

Montessori

We've had a sick kid at home for the past week -- an interesting strep/flu combo that's running furiously through NW Arkansas, laying everyone low: it's shut down the schools in one county, though not, unfortunately, the one we're living in, and has hit about a third of the professors in my department so far. Not me, knock wood.

Anyway, the kid got it Tuesday, though I didn't actually believe her until Wednesday (she tends to get every disease she hears about or reads about or sees someone get on ER or House) and then I couldn't get her into the doctor's until Friday -- but ANYWAY, she's needing a lot of books and a lot of reading to this week. Since they're doing art and Maria Montessori at her school this week, I've been reading books on those subjects to her.

(Side note: The way Montessori schools teach art is way cool. They research the artists and their lives, and then the kids draw and paint in the style those artists used -- for instance, for Michelangelo, they taped butcher's paper underneath the tables and painted it as though it were the roof of the Sistine Chapel.)

Back to Maria Montessori: if you're ever looking for a feminist, here's a woman you should check out. She starts out, at twelve, being told she has to be a teacher or a wife, those are the only options open (hey! that sounds familiar!), and she says, no thanks, I'd like to be an engineer.

None of the schools in Rome want to take her. Twelve years old girls will be too distracting to the male students, you see.

Her father finally (against his wishes, this is her mother's doing) finds a school that will take her, if she sits in the back and submits to a guard at the breaks.

She finishes the course, though she decides against engineering and ends up becoming a doctor instead -- the first woman doctor in Italy. (Long story attached to that, which includes needing to get the Pope's approval before she can be admitted to medical school.)

She's a doctor for a while, and while she is working with mentally retarded children, she develops a method of educating them which works so well, she thinks, hmm, what if we tried educating children that have normal intelligence this way? How well would it work with them?

The children she first works with are slum children, btw.

And later, when Mussolini tries to get her and the other Montessori teachers to sign a loyalty oath? They choose deportation first.

And, when she was in her early 30's, she had an illegitmate child, Mario: she kept him, too, though she kept him under wraps, as it were.

There's a feminist for you.

In case any of those women over at CWA were wondering what one looks like.

1 comment:

dianna said...

Cold/flu thing here too in Chicago - I walk around the house with a container of Clorox wipes hoping to be the only one in the family NOT to get sick. So far so good... knock on wood too :)