A MONTESSORI SCHOOL CONSULTATION
The night before the official Montessori work Simona and I drove high into the hills overlooking the city to visit the beautiful The Romanian orthodox Cetățuia Monastery. It was a quiet, still, starry night and no one was around, but when we entered there was a service going on, just a few monks taking turns reciting prayers, all dark except for a few candles and candelabras glowing the icons on the walls. It was very much like a blessing of the work.
To see more about the monastery, with pictures: CLICK: Cetățuia
Even with the very best of Montessori teacher training it is helpful to have a consultant. For approved AMI school in the US a consultation is required at regular intervals. Today, the main ways I can be helpful are twofold:
(1) Because I have experience with children and young adults from birth through high school, I can share my observations and suggestions, always to the entire group of all school adults, in such a way that everyone leaves with an overview of how Montessori supports the best of human development at all ages.
(2) Because of similar situations I have observed in many countries, I can support teachers who, because of societal pressure, have been forced to fill the school day with collective lessons, assignments, and scheduled activities—the essential Montessori protection of long periods of uninterrupted concentration falling to the wayside. This looks very much like traditional school and is not much fun for anyone.
After several days of talking to the teachers and administrator, and observing classes (Infant Communities, primary, and elementary classes) it was such a pleasure to share my ideas and the thoughts of everyone involved. Above is a picture of one of the two campuses and the school adults.
MORE ROMANIAN CULTURE
My hosts, knowing that I always want to experience as much as possible of the culture arranged a private tour of the famous library at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University that was founded in 1860 by a Prince by the same name. We were surprised to have difficulty finding parking which was finally explained by the fact that this was the week of the Model United Nation, students from all over Romania presenting the research they had done on countries of the world. There is also a Montessori Model United Nations program today, and, to understand more about this program, here is some information on one where I spoke in New York ten years ago: CLICK: MMUN
The library holds about 2.5 million volumes, an old and rare collection, from the 15th to the 19th centuries. There were stacks of books in all languages waiting to be repaired, catalogues, and shared with the world. As we left and walked through the streets of this part of Iasi there were book stands everywhere, like nothing I had seen before except along the Seine River in Paris.
The main hall of the university, known as The Hall of the Lost Footsteps, was lined with 10+ feet tall contemporary philosophical and political paintings of Sabin Bălașa who calls himself a “Cosmic Romantic” artist, and I think this was an apt description of his art. WE also were pleased, as we walked through the city to occasion upon a sculpture called a “blue cat” created by an artist who is a friend of my hosts Felix Aftene. See examples of both of these amazing artists in the picture above. My artist friends reading this can google either artist to see more very interesting art.
MONTESSORI PUBLIC LECTURE
People came from far afield to hear about this Montessori “concentration” emphasis. Teachers and parents from the school and others even from as far away as Bucharest and from Ploiesti and Targu Muras that are cities in the Bucharest area.
Here is a little video I took from the window where we held the lecture. One can see that this city is a combination of the modern high tech and business centers and the traditional, such as the beautiful Palace of Culture.
Between the two parts of my presentation there was long period for socializing, for people from different cities and walks of life to meet and chat. During my Montessori 6-12 training our professor, Margaret Stephenson advised us to hold meetings of Montessori teachers with no program or topic, just a time to meet and share. This was our goal today and it was very well received. Coffee at the cappuccino machine, finger foods, and of course my books. There are four translated into Romanian and I believe we sold out of most tit.es, and I was happy to sign them.
Cătălin Ivan became a member of the European Parliament for Romania, in Brussels, in 2009. After hearing about Montessori from a colleague he immediately understood the potential to help the 90 villages in Iasi County in a way that perhaps politics could not. From that moment, accompanied by his wife Catalina, he has left no stone unturned to bring the best of this kind of education to this country. You can see them in the picture above, with Simona Nicolae, co-administrator of the school, Montessori teacher, and in the AMI training-of-trainers program.
LAST NIGHT IN IASA – OPERA!
Years ago, I was taken to an opera for the first time in Washington DC, by my aunt and grandmother. I was so overwhelmed to the visual and musical stimulation that I excused myself and watched the opera in black and white on a small screen. Today I seek out opera wherever I am and can easily handle, in fact cherish, the theatrics, drama, scenery, dance, music, song. We were only able to get tickets for the night of the lecture and I was leaving for the airport at 4AM the next morning, but we made it!
Lucia di Lammermoor is a tragic opera by Donizetti, based on a novel about Scotland! I do not recognize spoken Romanian at all even though it is one of the five Romance languages, but there are many similar words and when written down, as were the few sentences above the opera stage, there were clues as to what was happening. Since our box was used for a short time to video the stage I made the little video clip above to share with you.
I had already packed and really did not sleep. When Simona and Catalina and I left the hotel, we saw snow everywhere. By the time I walked from the small airport to the plane by Birkenstock shoes and socks were soaked. But I had an hour to try to dry the out on the flight to Bucharest where I was met by an old friend, AMI 0-3 trainer working here, Sharlyn Smith who was presently giving a course at the training center in Bucharest.
After settling in at Sharlyn’s apartment, and borrowing some books, we walked to George Enescu Square, named after the musician I mentioned in the last blog post. Here we met Mariana Ulita the 3-6 trainer, for breakfast.
We walked from here through a beautiful large park, even getting to stop in to a church for a few minutes and feel part of the service, even more blessings for our work. Then we spent the rest of the morning at the training center. Above are two pictures of the 0-3, Assistants to Infancy, environment above. For more information about this training center, CLICK: Montessori Institute of Bucharest
There were several places that Sharlyn wanted to explore so we headed to a restaurant that had been recommended to here. Surprise! It was the same restaurant where I celebrated my 75th birthday just four years ago almost to the day. CLICK: Romania 2018
Mariana gifted the two of us with tickets to a string quartet performance at the Romanian Athenaeum Performing Arts Center on Enescu Square. The architecture was as interesting and enjoyable as the performance.
We walked through another lovely park back to Sharlyn’s apartment. The next morning, we said goodbye as she left for work, I packed, and then flew to the Netherlands to visit friends, to paint, and spend Thanksgiving.
More of my books are being translated into Romanian and I hope to create a small one, based on the lecture mentioned above, to inspire the mayors of the 90 towns in Iasi County, with the purpose of meeting with these people on my next trip.
My books are now being printed and available on Amazon in many countries. The list of these countries can been found here: CLICK: Countries
Thank you for inspiring me to share these travels and this work. I hoped to have the Netherlands Thanksgiving post completed before Christmas, but if this doesn’t happen it will soon.