Tuesday, 24 December 2013

When should the cat play?

As all the children grew up in the mid-90s, I had much time on my hands. I wanted to do something in my life that I liked.

Maria makes a cake with Grandma Cover of my new book
Maria makes a cake with Grandma
Cover of my new book

After working for the English Club of Oulu teaching little children to maintain their English language skills, I had become fascinated with education of little children and I looked around for something to study.

I discovered Maria Montessori and that her view about Education was radically different than what I had learnt - but it was identical to the way I had tried to bring up my own children. She gave importance to the child rather than the parent or the teacher. 

Her philosophy was centred around the phrase that "The Child is the Farther of Man"!

She wrote volumes upon volumes about Child Education. Everything she said rang a bell with me.

I visited the Maria Montessori St. Nicholas Institute in London and enrolled for a correspondence course in the subject.

As luck would have it, there was a tutor in Oulu, Finland, who was heading a Maria Montessori school for young children here. She is a Venezulean and she is married to a Finn.

Anna Eskola was given the task of receiving my correspondence course tutorials and marking them. This consisted a series of questions to which I was expected to write the answers based on the reading material provided in the tutorial available.

I got almost every book written by Maria Montessori and her son into my personal library. I started to study the subject with great gusto. My tutorial answers were based on much more than what was contained in the course matter!

This was an interesting phase as I studied each subject and then wrote the answer to the question on paper. As I did not type, I then dictated it to Jacob. He is a ferocious typer and could keep pace with my dictation.

Soon I was rolling out the tutorial answers. My tutor was immensely pleased with the thoroughness of my answers. I was very happy with the replies, the comments and the grades I was getting. 

Writing in English, I did have the assistance of Jacob's enormous editing skills as he corrected my Finnish/Indian English into British English, or rather the English he used for editing scientific text which could be understood all around the world, from China to Argentina and from Zambia to Bangladesh!

As a result both of us got educated, but Jacob in a lot simpler way! :-)

The course went much faster than I expected and before I realised it I was through it all except for visits to schools, Montessori and other types to do the practical assessment. As we were going to India, I chose two schools in the small town of Kottayam, one a small Montessori children's school and another, called Corpus Christi, which handled children from Junior to High School.

Corpus Christi was the premier school in Kottayam. It was founded and being run by a lady called Mary Roy. She is the mother of Arundhati Roy, the Booker Prize winner.

Mary Roy is the same age as me, but she has had a stormy life, with her parents, her husband, her brother and her daughter. But she is a fighter, and it was this that helped her start one of the most famous schools of Kerala.

She is not a Montessori follower, but her education theory which she has implemented is very close to the Montessori system. I was surprised that when we met two little children for dinner the night before we visited the school, they were waiting to get to school the next day. (That little girl, Naiomi, is today a friend of mine on Facebook and got married a few months ago!)

I completed my course and my tutorials received an average of 98%. Now that I have got the hang of how to publish eBooks, I intend to publish my tutorial work as an eBook series!  The answers to each tutorial question are available with the assessment.

I wrote a condensed book -  "Raising a Child the Montessori Way" but unfortunately the original computer files have been lost.

But I do have the original and already in 1998 many people wrote to me asking me to publish it.  I made it into a paperback, and already wrote the Preface, but never published it.

I have been struggling for the last four days to put this book online. (That is why the blog entries have been missing!) The scans were not good. 

I am now trying several methods to ensure I can get this book up as soon as possible. I will not change the original version but add a few comments to update the context as 15 years is a long time since writing it.

I captured a picture of granddaughter Maria wanting to make a cake just like her grandma during last summer. I am intending to use it as the cover of the boo as it depicts what educating a child is all about.

Hope you will tell other about this book and also find it useful in raising your own child/ children. Very workable and it will result in a well rounded up-bringing!

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