Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Imagine



Recently, at the Unitarian church I have started to attend, I sat in the pews and listened to a choir composed of older members sing "Imagine," John Lennon's famous song. I had not heard this song in a very long time, let alone sung live. It was an emotionally moving experience. Later that same day, I went to see Al Pacino's new movie, "Danny Collins." Fifteen minutes or so into the movie, the sound track played Lennon singing the same song. It was a beautiful coincidence. When I left the theater, I began to think about what I imagine or have imagined. My mind was quickly filled with photos I have taken and posted here. For the second time that day, I wept at the beauty of it all.

This past week, I sorted through those mental images. I remembered how often I had asked myself to "imagine" the infinite possibilities the Montessori method offers people of all ages and of diverse backgrounds. It was the act of visualizing one of these, combined with formulating a lesson, identifying the materials and then inviting a child or an elderly individual to sit and work with me (or a group of one or the other), which resulted in so much good work. It was a rare moment when someone declined. Yet, the vision of possibility was not complete until they engaged in it. They transformed it from a hope to a reality. Too, what I imagined became theirs and they made it more. Once I presented the lesson and provided the materials, I became the assistant and observer. From that place, I watched with wonderment and awe. Later, in the evening hours, I wrote about it.

Imagine toddlers given enough space to truly express themselves artistically.



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 Imagine other toddlers sewing - alone and collaboratively.



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Imagine children (3-6 year olds) asking if the leaves of a plant would collectively form an ellipsoid or an ovoid.




Imagine these same children designing, constructing and racing their own catamarans.




Imagine the elderly playing the Montessori bell game; quietly and carefully walking across the room and passing the bell to another.



Imagine them building with blocks that remind us Montessorians of the constructive triangles.



Imagine a child with high spectrum autism sewing a little, felt pouch.



Imagine that same child stopping on a walk to smell and feel the plants along the way. 


Four more images hover in my mind and must be shared. I watched these moments, yet they were not planned or imagined by me. They came to be because each of the individuals photographed acted independently and/or creatively within a space that provided them the opportunity to do so.

A child with high spectrum autism learning to tie her shoes for the first time.


An almost one hundred year old woman listening to music on her headphones and moving her hands as a conductor would.


A young girl in one of my Primary classrooms pulling a chair over to the open door so as to sit and watch the rain. Then leaping up with her hand outstretched hoping to catch a drop or two.



A toddler sewing with such grace and beauty as to still one's heart.


 "Everything you can imagine is real," Pablo Picasso.
I have much more to imagine...

3 comments:

Susan L said...

Hi Susan,
Wondering what you are up to lately. It has been such a joy to watch you use Montessori philosophy in your work with people of different ages and needs. You came to my school in NJ about 8 years ago....I've since closed it, and now am trying to use Montessori principles to transform a twice weekly (after school) Jewish religious school program for elementary and middle school. Your creativity has always inspired me and I wanted to thank you for sharing your brilliance for so many years!
Warmly,
Susan from NJ

Susan L said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan Slocum Dyer said...

Hi Susan. I loved visiting and speaking at your school. It was such a beautiful place! I live in Metlakatla, Alaska now and work as a Public Montessori teacher. I am moving to Barrow, Alaska - the top of the world - this summer and hope to continue exploring Montessori there! I am going to post a collage of my work here this past year soon. A teacher's life is an adventurous life! So good to hear from you!