Autor: Irene R. Escarpenter

La mente absorbente, María Montessori

LA MENTE ABSORBENTE – MARÍA MONTESSORI

¿Cuál es la razón por la que un recién nacido no comienza a evolucionar desde la Prehistoria hasta el día de hoy? Y, ¿cómo un bebé puede aprender algo tan complejo como el lenguaje sin apenas poder sostenerse en pie?

María Montessori descubre que los niños de entre 0 y 6 años poseen una mente especial; es transitoria y universal. De los 0 a los 3 años es inconsciente, aprendemos cosas como caminar y no lo recordamos; y hasta los 6 pasa a ser consciente, como por ejemplo cuando aprendemos a leer. Esta mente especial es denominada mente absorbente(capacidad que poseen los niños de esta primera etapa para adquirir todo aquello que los períodos sensibles le marcan). Es necesario aprovecharnos de esta capacidad, y dejar que el niño experimente; como hacen a través de los sentidos al chupar, tocar y oler. Al basarse esta etapa en la experimentación, se crea un sustento fundamental para que a partir de los 6 años el niño pueda tener imágenes mentales sobre los objetos y conceptos que le rodean

María Montessori hace una similitud con una fotografía y un dibujo. La fotografía es el aprendizaje por parte de los niños en esta etapa de mente absorbente; y el dibujo es cuando es un adulto quien aprende, por ejemplo, un nuevo idioma. Lo que trata transmitir es que nunca va a poder obtener la misma perfección. Durante el proceso de revelado, en el que la fotografía se asienta, debemos mantenerla en la oscuridad y no exponerla demasiado pronto a la luz. Así sucede con el niño ya que, si aún no ha asentado su aprendizaje por completo y trata de mostrarse, seguramente no se obtenga un buen resultado de esta experiencia (Montessori, 1949).

El niño hace que aquello que observa forme parte de él. El niño encarna lo que hay en el ambiente; y de aquí viene la importancia de la preparación del mismo. Aquello que un niño encarne durante estos años va a formar al hombre que será de mayor. A su vez esta mente tiene como ayuda los períodos sensitivos, que hacen que el niño se interese por ciertas cosas. La mente absorbente no juzga, y no tiene límites. Es así que aquello que el niño adquiera no va a ser razonado; por esto debemos ser unos buenos modelos. Un ejemplo que demuestra este hecho es cuando un niño es maltratado por sus padres y, al no tener ningún tipo de criterio, lo considera como normal y lo acepta y asume así.

El niño no razona porque aún no ha vivido experiencias, y por tanto no tiene un modelo o estructura mental con la que comparar aquello que le rodea. De igual manera sucede con la imaginación: el niño que no es suficientemente mayor, no ha podido crear imágenes mentales tras haber experimentado con los objetos.

Por último, es importante tener en cuenta que el error es parte del proceso y tiene cabida. Debemos hacer que el niño desarrolle su personalidad y la nuestra mengüe: preparamos el ambiente y actividades, y nos retiramos.

Si la naturaleza ha indicado de modo tan claro que este es el periodo del máximo esfuerzo, debemos ayudar a que se realice. Se trata de una afirmación genérica, pero los que observan al niño proporcionan detalles más exactos (Montessori, 1949).

Montessori, M. (1949). La Mente Absorbente del Niño.

Clara Boned Fustel

EnlightED: Reinventing Education in a Digital World

It wasn’t long ago that I heard about the EnlightED program taking place in Madrid this year. I thought ‘Wow, finally this country is taking education seriously’. I hadn’t felt that way many times before and having EnlightED as part of this year’s South Summit convention, which is the leading startup conference in Europe, has definitely confirmed the real concern that exists around the future of education in our country and the world. ‘Finally’, I thought again.

This program has focused on several aspects related to Education around the world, from corporate training and lifelong learning, to higher education, online learning or Schools and Youth. Apart from the conferences and super interesting talks, during these days, a Startup Competition happens where 100 startup finalists from all around the world are chosen and compete to be the winners in their area of expertise or category. Regarding education, which is my main interest as you might have realised already, 18 startups were chosen for the competition. Even though I haven’t met them all in person, I have looked into them and I have to say that I am very impressed! Thanks to these entrepreneurs that have risked a lot to get to where they are now, we have many new and different solutions to every day problems or solutions that make our lives and the lives of our little ones better and easier. Some of them include Lingokids, MenteLista, Cerebriti, myABCKit, Body Planet, Sense, or Cherpa. In the following picture, you can check them all out and read a brief description of what they do. I highly encourage you to do a little research on them if you are a person interested in Edtech! Some of them could help your school or organization.

To close this year’s South Summit event, a person I specially admire was invited to come in and share his point of view about the future of Education. In 2007, he gave the most viewed TEDtalk in the world, with approximately 54 million views, called ‘Do schools kill creativity?’. Even though he had been working in the education field for many many years before that, he didn’t really become that famous until his TEDtalk. Today I was very fortunate to be able to listen to Ken Robinson’s words in person for the second time in my life (next to a very good friend of mine), after Bett Show 2017 in London.

The main points he made this morning on how to revolutionize education from the ground up, focused on the many -and so varied- intelligences the human being has and the importance of helping each and every child discover and foster their own talents as passion changes everything’. Moreover, and related to his previous talks and famous TEDtalk, he mentioned how urgent it is for schools to adapt to childrenand not the children to schools, as it has been happening up to now; and forget about the 1 only -and lonely- curriculum fits them all, and work hard towards student-centered curriculums and personalized learning experiences.

In addition, he emphasized, as many other speakers today, the importance of teaching our future generations about valuessuch as kindness and compassion, and life skills that the future and the future workplaces will demand from them. For example, flexibility, communication skills, resilience, empathy, critical thinkingor teamworkhave been repeatedly heard during these 3 days. In Ken Robinson’s own words: ‘intelligence is so much more than the academic ability of a person.’ Schools should realise this and work on the development of these ‘other aspects’ of the person too, which, in my opinion, are more important than the academic abilities of a child.

Finally, he reminded everyone about the true aims of education: helping children understand the world around them and finding the talents within them so they can be fulfilled, happy and compassionate citizens. ‘The only way to look forward to our future and solve the cultural, social/environmental and economic problems our planet faces right now is through the development of our sense of compassion, collaboration and our capacities as human beings. That is the big mission for education; and it couldn’t be more urgent. We still won’t be able to predict the future, but we will have a future.’ Sir Ken Robinson. 

After these days, I guess and I hope that Spanish organisations, schools and everyone related to education in our country have understood the importance of it for our future and have become aware ofthe need for us to transform our system from the ground up, starting from our preschools, which is the wonderful challenge I look forward to now and that will soon become the -very exciting and adventurous- next chapter in my life.

I hope that this helps you reflect and that it is relevant for the ones of you that couldn’t make it today!

—————-

PS. Below, two of Ken Robinson’s books that can help you find your passion and talents in life or guide your school through a creative and necessary transformation: Creative Schools and The Element.

A different education IS possible. New York.

After a wonderful 3-week educational trip to New York, I’ve first-hand experienced how a different education IS possible. 

In a world where everything is changing and evolving so fast, and where kids are growing up and being
immersed in technology since they are born, it becomes urgent -now more than ever- the need for us to change our schools and the way we teach. From the learning environments, to our classroom settings, the way we plan our lessons, how the students interact with each other and/or adults, or the way we record students’ learning, among many others.

Schools must be places where students feel happy and safe to be at, and a place where they look forward to going to every morning. After visiting many schools in New York, most of them independent, I’ve explored and learnt from many teaching and learning approaches, leadership dynamics and the learning communities they’ve created around each of them. As of all, I’ve had one of the best experiences in my life that has inspired me thoroughly, and most of all, has reaffirmed my strong willingness to change our educational system while validating its endless possibilities with examples such as AltSchool.

As the world progresses, our students’ and workplaces’ needs are changing very quickly (and will continue to do so at a faster pace) and the teacher/content centered focus is becoming more and more obsolete. Moreover, as the most experienced and trustworthy educational gurus, such as Ken Robinson or Marc Prensky (which words and speeches actually become a reality in the future of education), have shared with us in the past several months at World Educational Congresses in Madrid or London: this ‘learning revolution’is happening and is happening NOW. From what they’ve showed us, and what I have seen in NY this past month, I’ve learnt that our focus MUST be on preparing students for what the future will demand from them: life skills. Mastering problem-solving, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, team-working, creativity or communications, among others, is the key for a successful 21st century education. 

You might be thinking, ‘how do we work towards this educational transformation?’, well, what I would suggest would be the following:

  • Look deeply into your students’ interests and work out the curricula around these. The more the kids can connect what they are learning to real life and their personal experiences, the more they will remember and learn.
  • Create project-based learning experiencesaround those interests. Project-Approach expert, Ivonne Kogan, principal at the school I worked at in Mexico City, and author of the marvellous book ‘Engaging children’s minds’(you should read it if you want to learn how to start creating meaningful learning experiences through this approach) says that incorporating the Project Approach into the curricula, engages children intellectually and heightens their capacities for thinking, hypothesising, reasoning, and expressing their natural curiosity.
  • Organise hands-on learning experiences as much as possible. This allows students to directly observe and understand what is happening, and is the best option when presenting something new that the kids haven’t learnt about yet; it will be much easier for them to understand.
  • Involve emotional intelligencelearningacross all areas of the curriculum and devote at least 1 specific time slot every week to talk about emotions and how the children feel. Developing emotional skills such as self-awareness, empathy, active listening or their self-esteem since they are little will help them understand how people act and react to circumstances in the future, how to manage their own emotions and how to deal with conflicts.
  • Document and make visible students’ learning. Visible classrooms can be identified by five key principles—that learning is purposeful, social, representational, empowering, and emotional. Inspired by the innovative educational philosophy that originated in Reggio Emilia,  ‘Visible Learners’ (another book you should read) offers research-based practices for fostering learning in groups through documentation. To learn more you should also visit the Making Learning Visible Harvard project at http://www.pz.harvard.edu/projects/making-learning-visible

In conclusion, a wonderful learning revolutionis happening, as it should, because our societies’ and students’ needs have changed so much in the past 20 years -and we must adapt. We must provide the new generations with the skills that will help them be successful in all areas of their lives while being emotionally and intellectually strong; creative, innovative, problem-solvers, excellent communicators and able to identify their own and others’ feelings. Our role here, as educators, is to as work hard as necessary to bring out the most in every child and find and foster their unique talents through personalised paths on which to build their abilities and strengths. As in the end, a happy adult will be the one that knows what he wants to dedicate his/her life to, what he is good at, what he can offer others and the world, and what makes him/her joyful.

Finally, here’s to the wonderful books that school principals have recommended me in NY to lead this educational transformation with success 🙂
                          

We hope this inspires you!

 

Bett Show London

Today I am super happy to tell you about what I got to see this weekend in London: Bett Show!

Bett is an educational and technological (or EdTech) show that has taken place in London for the 33rd year in a row! (wow). It is a space where the whole education community across the globe come together to share four days of wonderful experiences, practices and ideas. This year’s topic was Game Changers, as they were celebrating the impact some people have had in the past in the world and some that are creating that impact nowadays! So, I flew all the way from Madrid to London to check it out… and I loved it!

There was SO much to see that I’ve had to go through all my pictures, videos, written notes, the official Bett Guide to be able to organise all the information I have taken with me and all I have learnt. I think that what has impacted me the most has been seeing so many educators and school leaders together; people coming from all over the world to engage others with their products, practices or just to get some ideas and inspiration. I have really come back home full of energy and really proud to belong to such a meaningful and supportive community that it is changing education around world and making it a better place for us and our students.

A floor plan map designed to meet everyone’s expectations with several areas and rooms, for us to be able to attend what interested us the most; from tech innovations, to edtech startup presentations, introduction to coding classes, a School Leaders’ Lounge, or Seminars of all types trying to cover everyone’s interests.

As they recommend, I organised my visit in advanced and I already knew what I wanted to attend and listen to when I arrived. It took me a while, to be honest, but it is something crucial you must do if you want to learn as much as possible and use time wisely when on site.

For example, my Friday looked like this:

10.30 – BRINGING AWE INTO LEARNING. Brett Arena 

11 AM – New emerging opportunities for school business leaders. School Leaders Summit

11.30 – EDTECH STARTUPS. School Management. Bett Futures

12.15 Successful Use of Social Media in Education. Learn Live: Primary

12:45 – 13:15 Learnometer with Professor Stephen Heppell – what affect can the physical environment have on learning results and how important is it to get this right.HE Leaders Summit

13.05 – To cook is to be human, so why is it often absent from education? Bett Arena

13.30 How to embrace PR and social media to promote your school to new students and parents. School Leaders Summit. 

2 PM  – REINMAGINING EDUCATION WITH TECHNOLOGY. GOOGLE. Bett Arena

3 PM- Using technology to communicate with parents. Learn Live: Primary

15.30 – Leading is teaching, teaching is leading! Learn Live: Secondary

15.45 – DAVID CARTER. Bett Arena 

16.40 – SIR KEN ROBINSON. The Learning Revolution. Bett Arena

With so many seminars I wanted to attend and so many stands I wanted to visit, of course I was late to some of them, but I tried my best! Heard so many splendid ideas and learnt so much from what others are doing that I wish I could attend this type of congresses once a month instead of once a year. The seminars I attended were related to business, marketing, technology and innovation as I want to start a school in Madrid. Can sound crazy at first, but after attending this wonderful show and listening to all these inspiring educational leaders, I am now, more than ever, sure that this is what my country needs: a new and humanised educational model that offers children the opportunity to learn about the world around them differently, experimenting life, connecting with other students, their families and the community and developing the skills they will need in their future: communication, problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking etc; real-world skills.

Two of the talks that more captivated me where ‘Reimagining Education with technology’ from Google and Sir Ken Robinson’s talk. Google’s Senior Manager, Rajen Sheth, mentioned the importance of making technology useful and meaningful for the students and how what matters is how you use it. He mentioned the four learning principles that he believed technology should support, and these are:
1. Learning should be personalisedand measured,tailoring learning to individual needs and interests.
2. Learning should be collaborativeand diverse,concept of learning as a social process.
3. Learning should be project-basedand self-managed,giving students ownership of their own learning.
4. Learning should be conceptualand experimental,giving students the opportunity to apply what they’re learning.

The last but most important part of my Friday happened when I listened to Ken Robinson’s talk. It impacted me very very much and I would recommend it to anyone in the education business that wants to feel inspired and proud of what they’re doing. With sentences like ‘I believe schools are the answer‘, and ‘There’s room for manoeuvre, keep going‘, this man inspired a crowd full of magnificent educators and leaders in the search of words of wisdom and hope. With humor yet being rigorous, he explained the learning revolution we are going through and some guidelines for a successful educational change at schools and all learning environments. Moreover, he described the competition culture and the famous standardised tests as prejudicial for students and their lives and responded a super clear ‘YES’when someone from the crowd asked if these tests should be permanently deleted from the school system. Finally, he brought out and analysed the aims of education which he believed are ‘To enable students to understand the world around them and the talents within them so they can become fulfilled individuals and active, compassionate citizens.’

It’s been a real pleasure to attend Bett 2017 and I can’t wait for next year’s show. Even though I didn’t have time to visit all stands and talk to everyone there, I did have time to network and chat to people that share my view of education, met up with some Spanish colleagues too, and most importantly, I saw how the world of education is as huge as any other, but creates SUCH an impact that it is impossible to forget or ignore. Thanks to all of the people that were there, children all around the world will have a better future, and therefore, we will all have a better world where to live in and hopefully, a world at peace where all kids, without exception, have access to a good education and a safe environment where they feel happy to learn.

I am very proud of the business I belong to, as Mr. Robinson said, ‘Education is the miracle business’. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day! 

Valentine’s is a great opportunity to show appreciation for the people we love and to start showing the children around us how to do this. Most children think this is a day that only couple and marriages should celebrate, but we should explain that everyone can celebrate Saint Valentine’s by showing appreciation to the people that surround them and care about them every day of the year.

WISE@Madrid: Imagining the Future of Education

WISE@Madrid: Imagining the Future of Education

This Qatar’s Foundation initiative is remarkable and very necessary. A space where educators, educational leadership professionals and other organisations come together to discuss what they think the future of education will look like.

Mr. Mark Prensky opened the first session questioning how are we going to prepare the next generations for the a new and different world, and how are we going to help unleash the power of this 21 st century kids.

Some key points we learnt yesterday could be summarised in:

  1. We must reimagine education, all the way from Pre-K to Grad School in order to find the ways that better fit the kids of tomorrow.
  2. Education must help us create better peoplethat will improve our world.
  3. Education should be focused on kids’real world problemsand how they are going to fix them. This will help us improve our world and create empowered students.
  4. Education should be based on real-world projectsthat solve real problems.
  5. Effective education must be based on effective thinkingskills, effective actionskills and effective relationshipskills.
  6. Schools must help students achieve the following:
    1. Independenceand self-confidence
    2. Self-knowledgeand applied passion
    3. A strong sense of how they fitinto the future
  7. Mr. Prensky’s new education ABC’s:
    1. Accomplish
    2. Become
    3. Contribute
  8. We must first improve school leadersto be able to improve schools and education.
  9. Entrepreneurship can and must be taught in schools. To be great entrepreneurs kids need a broader learning in all areas.
  10. Schools can help teach entrepreneurship by integrating courses where kids create, build things, fail and try again, and again.

In conclusion, it was a pleasure to attend to WISE@Madrid and we hope these kind of events help educational administrators and policy makers realise how important and urgent it is for us as a country to start developing new ways and approaches to education that will help our students and future citizens create a better world and find how they fit into our society and how they can contribute to a better future.

With love,

Kanva Kids


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