Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Scientists know that certain parts of the brain control specific brain and body functions. Two hemispheres form the basic structure of the brain, connected by a bundle of neurons called the corpus callosum.
Between 24 to 48 months of age, the neurons in the primary motor cortex of the brain sprout a large number of dendrites, which are responsible for movement in the hands. The left motor cortex controls the right side of the body and right motor cortex controls the left side.
By the age of three years, 86% of children prefer to use the right hand more than the left. Researchers are looking into the proverbial chicken or egg question in regards to handedness. Does the use of the right hand create brain development in the left hemisphere and vice versa, or does brain growth create dominant hand use?
One thing we do know is that using the hands and brain development are closely connected. We would be wise to help our children use their hands in as many ways as possible in order to maximize brain growth and brain hemisphere communication.
Research has shown that certain kinds of thinking are directed in each hemisphere. The functions of the right hemisphere are referred to as ''right-brain thinking'' and the work the left hemisphere is called ''left brain thinking.'' Some examples follow:
Intuitive, spontaneous, emotional, nonverbal, visual, artistic, holistic, playful, diffuse, symbolic, physical
Analytical, linear, explicit, sequential, verbal, concrete, rational, active, goal-oriented
Communication between the hemispheres occurs via the corpus callosum, which grows rapidly during the first six years of life. It is because of the corpus callosum that we can use our whole brains, and certain creative skills depend upon critical communication and perception shifts between the cerebral hemispheres.
We need to encourage activities that help develop our children's corpus callosum by strengthening right/left brain connection. Walking, running and swimming are physical activities that require the functioning of both sides of the body and therefore stimulate both sides of the brain fairly equally.
Along with activities that use the whole body, we need to encourage activities that create cross talk between the hemispheres of the brain.
For example, singing involves the right-brain function of music and the left-brain strength of language.
Verbally expressing emotion uses the right-brain function of emotion along with the verbal skills of the left brain.
Drawing graphs uses the right brain's artistic function in tandem with the left-brain's analytical and mathematical skills.
Reciting nursery rhymes or poetry with motions takes advantage of the right brain's predominance in motion and nonverbal skills while connecting with the left brain's verbal skills.
Nursery rhymes and children's songs have endured for centuries because they naturally address the brain development needs of the young child. By encouraging singing and learning a large variety of songs with your preschooler, you'll also be encouraging the brain's hemispheres to work together and strengthen vital connection through the corpus callosum.
Telling jokes uses the playful right brain and the verbal, goal-oriented left-brain. If we can shift our joke telling at the right time to left-brain control, we'll be more likely to remember and deliver the punch lines. Comedians rely on effective brain cross talk to make us laugh.
Using whole brain communication can help us calm a crying or emotionally upset child. By softly counting into the child's right ear, since the opposite side of the brain controls each side of the body, we begin to stimulate left-brain function, which is concerned with logic and rational thought. Because number work is a left-brain function, counting in the right ear helps the emotional right-brain brain shift to a left-brain rational perception. This supports the old adage, ''Count to ten when you are upset.'' Counting helps us at any age to shift our thinking from our emotional right brain to our more rational left brain.
Singing can also help make the calming shift from right-brain to left-brain thinking. Keeping the right-hand side of a crying child next to you can help the child shift to a more left-brain perception.
In our children's first six years of life, a time of rapid brain growth, let's work to keep our children's environments full of music, language and creative activities that will stimulate and nourish both sides of the brain and the connection between the hemispheres.
From "Kids Talk" - a column dealing with childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
- A Sense of Purpose
- In Harmony with the Child's Needs and Tendencies
- Inner-directed Learning
- Cosmic Education
- Going Out
- Core Subjects
- Mathematics and Geometry
- Physical Education
- Cooking/Food Preparation
- Extra Activities
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The eight principles of Montessori Education discussed here are
(1) that movement and cognition are closely entwined, and movement can
enhance thinking and learning;
(2) that learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense
of control over their lives;
(3) that people learn better when they are interested in what they are
(4) that tying extrinsic rewards to an activity, like money for reading or
high grades for tests, negatively impacts motivation to engage in that
activity when the reward is withdrawn;
(5) that collaborative arrangements can be very conducive to learning;
(6) that learning situated in meaningful contexts is often deeper and richer
than learning in abstract contexts;
(7) that particular forms of adult interaction are associated with more optimal
child outcomes; and
(8) that order in the environment is beneficial to children.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
It seems only appropriate that this site begin with an homage to the one who introduced me to Montessori:
The Philosophy of Maria Montessori
Robert Buckenmeyer, Ph.D.
There are those who think that the child’s only value for humanity lies in the fact that he will someday be an adult. In this way, they detract from the true value of childhood by shifting it only into the future.
The child should have a nature quite different from the adult – this doesn’t require further proof. It’s necessary to point out that the difference between childhood and adulthood is much deeper than most people think.
About the Book
What is the significance of Maria Montessori’s philosophy of human being to learning and to the development of her prepared environment and the materials she advocated and fashioned? Author Robert Buckenmeyer’s The Philosophy of Maria Montessori will give us important insights about this subject.
To have a greater understanding of Maria Montessori’s philosophy of human being is to open Nature’s book of knowledge and understand Maria Montessori herself. The thrust of this book is to help us comprehend her philosophy of human being so we might better understand her prepared environment and enable us to design new materials that would implement her philosophy.
The Philosophy of Maria Montessori enables us to understand her philosophy of being human in multiple areas, as a scientist, as a teacher, as a student and as a human being. Understanding these enables us to understand both her so-called materials which enable children to live in the everyday world more intelligently and materials which enable children to participate in the Catholic Mass more completely. Montessori realizes that adults stand on the shoulders of children so she concludes that children are “father to the man” and are the necessary hope for peace in the world because as the child grows so grows the adult.
Throughout this book, we will explore what it means to be human as scientist, as a child, as a teacher, and as a learner. So we will also look over Montessori’s philosophy of human learning, but specifically the child’s learning given the fact that children are both children of parents in the context of being children of God.
The Philosophy of Maria Montessori also aims to help the Montessori teachers in facilitating the development of children as unique individuals for them to be able to understand what Montessori means by being human.
About the Author
My life of teaching Philosophy to public and private college and university students spans fifty-five years. My efforts sought to generate student self-learning, in my judgment the only true learning. My first awareness of Maria Montessori was a college student who asked me after a 1966, Introduction to Philosophy class: “have you ever read anything by Maria Montessori?” I said, “no,” and she responded “you ought since you teach the way she describes teachers should teach.” I then enrolled in the Montessori program at Belmont College and sat at the feet of Sr. Christine Marie. I was introduced to Maria Montessori through her words and materials; I was sold. There, through Elisa Harrison, I met Edna Andreani and her daughter, Andrea, a former student of Maria Montessori in the “glassed in classroom” at the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.
Edna Andreani and Elisa Harrison introduced me to Mario Montessori and asked him if she, Edna, could give me the notes Mary Pyle transcribed of Maria’s thirty plus talks delivered in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego. He commented, “Edna, not even I have those talks, but I give my blessing; yes, give them to Bob.” That afternoon, Edna gave me those talks, about ten inches thick, typed on carbon paper, wrapped carefully with a pink ribbon. The first page had typed: “Copyright, Los Angeles 1915,” so, according to the Bern Convention, such a statement meant any publication of the notes required a seventy-five year wait time, thus, I could not seek publication until 1990! I set to work reading all of Maria Montessori’s works and editing the notes, typed on the “fly” as Montessori spoke to her audiences by Mary Pyle, Montessori’s on line translator and typist. Then in 1997, at long last, The CLIO Montessori Series, Volume 15 entered print as The California Lectures of Maria Montessori, 1915, Oxford, England; this volume is now in its second printing.
This current book I write to fill in the void neglected by other multiple works devoted to Maria Montessori and her method; that void is the neglect of any author to consider Montessori’s understanding of her philosophy of human nature and so I ask the question: what is Montessori’s philosophy of being human?
- Robert Buckenmeyer, Ph.D.
© 2009. Robert Buckenmeyer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.