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Grit is the buzzword

Young children explore, as children grow, seeing things through is important. Young children stick with things for more than a few weeks. middle school children are able to do for a full year ,High school children should spend more than year on an activity which is important.Tactfully instilling grit in children requires a combination of being demanding and supportive. accelerated learning programs aid in accomplishing challenges. We need to push children a little bit but they also need to know that they are supported. its important parents need to model grit.Talks about the challenges we have faced in the past and how we persisted help.

My popular story has been the toil of physically building Mithrajyothi from the brick and mortar stage itself . Telling family stories about the ways our ancestors have been gritty -my Grandfather always shared his story of Hardwork and battling poverty to contribute to the family, inspired me always and i am an eternal positivist at that. This  approach will help them to not quit early, but make sure Not to over look fun. children should be allowed to try the things that they are interested and some times encouraging children until they are able to  explore and understand happiness.

Learning to cope with manageable threats is critical for the development of resilience and grit. Not all stress is harmful. There are numerous opportunities in every child’s life to experience manageable stress—and with the help of supportive adults, this “positive stress” can be growth-promoting. Over time, we become better able to cope with life’s obstacles and hardships, both physically and mentally.

The capabilities that underlie resilience can be strengthened at any age.

Most successful children display natural aptitude a combination of passion and perseverance. Duckworth’s new book Grit the power of passion and perseverance, how to develop grit is a must read for all teachers. By Actively discovering and deepening our interest we can do the difficult effortful work which helps to  make us better.Important is maintaining hope even during setbacks. Parenting style to foster grit is by being demanding and being supportive with warmth , love and autonomy support.

Healthy successful and giving people are meta cognitive with the ability to reflect as a signature trait. Carol Dweck’s ” Growth mind-set, implying human abilities are malleable and are not fixed and people by nature are learning growing individuals” is a good read. Grit is of stamina and trying in the face of adversity. many of my Teachers face this in the environment in the beginning Days and while working with children who display sedentary behaviour, when children are yet to settle down. Gritty people love what they do and keep loving . Many senior professionals in the community do accomplish and persist , going their whole life doing something that is very fascinating for them developing the essence of purpose in their work. For me Grit is not different from “conscientiousness”.

“Society is obsessed with talent and is generous with people who are natural with inherent ability.Here nurture wins over nature every time. In the book, Mind set the new psychology of success adopting a growth attitude towards talent can affect all aspects of life from school , relationships to our work.World leaders always valued team work over individual genius,Looking for both talent and growth mind-set with a passion for learning, thriving  on challenges and change to make mistakes and struggle and trying to create experiences through the rest of our lives.

Growth mind-set = perseverance and resilience,  is required to convert life’s setbacks into future success.

Many times, in a quest for physical and mental fitness, with a desire to push ourselves through uncomfortable situations, and in pursuit of saying “I did it!”  i have also said“I can’t do this.”

Then a voice in our own head says, “Yes, you can,” and suddenly we are scrambling up that wall. These challenges  are temporary, yet for many people, they are pivotal. They are the culmination of , hard work, practice and doing something outside of the comfort zone. Certainly there are people who can work their way just because they have talent and fantastic genetics, but for most of us it takes perseverance and passion to get through them. Many at times I have experienced strong animosity, intimidation,negativity , from known and unknown ,whom you can’t give up on or give a closure to the relationship for u have grown with them in those good old days we persist with grit despite the Negativity.

For  many of us there is a need to prove to ourself that we did  it. That’s a form of grit.

Grit is a buzz word that we have likely been hearing more and more, . Grit is getting a lot of attention in 21st century schools and businesses. Companies want employees who don’t give up, work hard, think out of the box, and thrive on challenges. Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance. Grit is a term made famous by  psychologist, researcher and author, Angela Duckworth. Duckworth has done extensive work studying success and achievement in various settings. She, like many others who study “soft skills,” believes that success and achievement are more about mindset than about talent.  In the growth mindset, mistakes are embraced as learning practice, failure is seen as necessary, and hard work determines the outcome.

Sometimes looking at the framed photo  of Maria Montessori , it seems she is winking at me to say, “I could have told you that 110 years ago.” Once again, Dr. Montessori was always ahead of her time.  Grit is Montessori  story

In the Montessori environment, the curriculum is designed with a control of error. Here children  make mistakes and correct  them without an adult telling them they were wrong. There is no external judgment on their mistakes. Think of a jigsaw puzzle. You can tell when you have made a mistake, and then you can try again. You continue this until the puzzle is complete. You don’t wait for someone to come over and tell you that something isn’t a corner piece. You figure it out and keep going.

Montessori children  commit mistakes and learn from them. They know from a very young age, that this is part of the learning process. Montessori children expect that some of the work they will do will take more time, be more challenging and produce varied results. Sometimes they do work that they think might be too difficult, and they stick with it and surprise themselves.

In Montessori, we give children the time that they need to finish challenging work. We give students the space to focus on something that is meaningful to them and the encouragement to push themselves to complete it. We give children choice in what they do, but we make sure that they try things outside of their interest and comfort zone. Then we ask them to reflect on the experience. How did they feel when they completed something that took so much work and determination? Rewarding the process of effort and work is a key to intrinsic motivation.praising wisely and the process to accomplish itself is needed.

The key to a Montessori child’s success is this  intrinsic motivation. This is a desire to learn that stems from interest and not from outside rewards. The motivation comes from the pleasure of the task itself and/or the completion of the task.  We can’t make children learn. We can’t force them to work, but we can provide them with interesting opportunities and intentional work. as children grow, they learn  about their brains.  Talking to older children We can role model  to them about mindset, perseverance and challenging themselves. We share with them the “why,” but they still have to do the work. We can only provide the opportunities, the time and the support.

There’s nothing new or trendy about grit. The best learning happens through passion, perseverance and meaningful learning. Montessori children have been gritty since 1906.



The uniqueness of Montessori Research

convocation photo 2017Words of Father Thomas C Mathew always rang a bell , “The world is  changing into one of data driven”.

Data holds a key to any of our arguments to validate or trash it.

Research can be daunting ! said all. Undeterred I  committed to a venture that gave me valuable insights to not only Montessori, but also life itself.

Professor Anurag Behar’s words Cautioned me, Educators have an epistemic responsibility “would I do justice to research knowing my level of professional and personal commitments.

How would I deal with this? would I be effective? will i have clarity in aims integral to research. Well there are no universally acceptable answers but needing only constant critical interrogation of our institutional work culture and be adept at asking and answering questions. Can i tread this path? I often wondered. It is imperative that academia submerge in research constantly as a method of learning with ability to observe, hypothesise, analyse, synthesize and conclude. Mind you the research method and approach we undertake would create unfathomable mysteries ahead! Research for me has been a tail of grit, huge reliance on insight, inspiration from legends and of personal sagacity.

Why research ? Why Montessori? Leaving all these questions, unanswered I sauntered despite many challenges. what prompted me in this endevour  beside the data driven approach was the tinkering tendency of my mind-set, I would be surrounded with what I love  and being a practitioner i would always make it better in my profession. Liberal tendency tagged along of serving everyone.

Why study Montessori Research?

Data validates our arguments, not much of montessori research in india, to understand the differences in educational outcome,To test Montessori culture being closed? to have robust enough data to give leads to policy makers as to the relationship between Montessori and international progressivism, to give momentum to support future rigorous research, to position montessori as the archetype of educational innovation.

What to study in Montessori research?

The background to study is to understand the prevailing scenario and readiness of learner which influences engagement in the learning environment, results of sedentary behaviour, The flow of work itself gives us a que, The thinking of Montessori teachers and the constant action research happening in the environment every day. Treading the typical montessori outcome research is a beaten path.

The levels of awareness in schools of education has it grown or not. Building on the high name recognition of Montessori research and helping children to learn , how to learn.

T o educate the public on misunderstood Montessori practices, to highlight montessori as the happiness enabler as it is touted as.

How to study?

A data rich study will validate our hypothesis, Having matched cohorts and a quasi experimental study for quantitative research is the path. Random assignment of sample to groups would be a superior methodology. Valid Researchable questions will strengthen our study.

The usage of material should be used as index of Montessori fidelity, higher the fidelity better the outcome.Implying the treatment is always well-defined.

To always create a convincing case for our conclusions, Reviewing literature comprising of body of work summarised and include well designed and influential research. To always have scientifically oriented questions and explanations for the evidence gathered.Having a pretest will act as base line.

Though a lot of ad hoc research happens in the class room constantly, newer methods and teacher reflections reveals credible data leading to subsequent questions to start the cycle of enquiry. A well designed research requires carefull consideration of challenge of scholarly investigation created by the unique nature of Montessori method. Having clarity in definitions of the object of study is always a strength. But authenticity and fidelity is a relevant basis for comparison. the most complex of research designed should take into account the major confounding influence of parental selection.

Montessori research cannot be confined to standardised tests as an indicator of educational effectiveness. The important factor in a study is the number of participants to suffice a statistical analysis. SPSS is a boon to research scholars for data analysis. Research language requires precision to articulate the definition of the study and the measures we use for collecting data, devising an instrument made by the scholar with construct validity holds good. This will reveal and gauge the validity of our conclusions. when we say it is statistically significant in research interpretation, its understood that the results represent a true difference in the measured population.Always having a body of  knowledge in our study will  support the hypothesis.

Validity of the study for practical implication using appropriate language and design of the research process is non negotiable. A huge learning factor is to accommodate contingencies in a transparent study taking in healthy criticism without deterrents. With the armour of honesty, doing full justice  to our study is half our battle won. Complying to directions and policies of the university is inevitable. the scholars study of abstracts, reviews done systematically and scientifically and applied to the work diligently without wasting time, mastering the styles relevent to the study of the problems is essential to face set backs and will always give room for improvement and commit to scholarly passion for research.

Elucidating limitations of the study is crucial

Most often the sample for Montessori research comes from well-educated mid to high income group families. Sample most often from private schools in urban setting, teachers with montessori credentials.Construct validity and consistency of measurement of tools is important, chances of researchers bias and conditions of data collections will affect results. Validity both external and internal should hold stead.Attrition itself could be a problem, the incidence of confounding variables is high. Ethical issues should not be compromised as data gathered is of children.

The Montessori method has been carried forward by the context of the times of Dr. Montessori life and work. The gendered side to montessori story affected her in ways and lingers limiting her cited contribution to educational theory .

Finally montessori Research leads to the strong belief that practioners ,trainers and teachers play a magnificient role in Child development than academics and knowledge transfer.


Books for young readers

april 2017_blog 348As someone who works with children, teachers, trainers and mentors and Parents, I am privy to an ever ending discussion on children’s books. ” what makes children’ s books good?”. There are two approaches to a good children’s book, a content oriented approach and a result oriented approach. The first one is nutritive, socially conscious may be morally instructive. vast number of books are these days timely and relevant. Another criteria is psychological value. A good book according to child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim is, “that which would promote ability to find meaning in life develop  intellect, clarifies emotions, at the same time suggest solutions to the problems which perturb him.”  But there are few books which achieves these lofty ideals. C. S. Lewis in his land mark essay on “Three ways of writing for children” says,   Anyone who believes children’s books should be read only by children should admit defeat. How perfectly stated. Good books for children fall in the center of a Venn diagram where one circle is books that children like and the other is books that adult like. The content oriented approach for good books is that the reader will devour every page, rich and thoughtful which can challenge children  make them think and reconsider, to learn to grow and to become wiser and to see the world in a new way. The results oriented approach are the ones driven by sales figures.

Books for children in Montessori must be served by reality such as books on the natural world, true stories, books on world around us, books on different culture, books on people who help us. Our children’s own interest and reactions will let us know if we have introduced the right book to them. Montessorians look for books that are scientifically accurate multi culture in scope, well illustrated and to organize them by age and theme.Books on Poetry on animals, seasons, food or feelings,Books on reality based fiction we would sight “Cap’s for sale” where Monkeys are capable of stealing caps.The book :Gift of the tree” is a poetic account of the cycle of life of a majestic oak tree. pointing out the disconnectedness of animals and plant life.

The carrot seed, anyone who has planted a seed and seen it grow into a beautiful edible thing will love this story. Alison’s Zinnia,  is of learning more about the flower

nomenclature, walking through the gardens and identifying the flowers. Houses and homes by Ann morris is highly recommended.  young children are so interested in everyday necessities such as shoes, clothing, food and transportations. this book highlight how people have similar needs yet culture has unique ways of meeting them.

The quilt story is a touching story of a handmade quilt which follows many generations in a family. A wonderful way to introduce to children the value of handmade objects.

Books by Indian authors:

Stories of our country side and our animals ,Folk tails, books that give a big picture view of India through stories of beliefs and celebrations.Madhur Jaffery’s season of splendour, Celebrated writer Mahasweta Devi’s book ,why-why girl , is Moyna  who finds her answers to all why-whys through books that Moyna herself learns to read.My favorite’s  is Granny’s Sari by Asha Nehemiah where granny’s favorite sari is blown away by the wind as granny and Anu go looking for it, they meet several people who have used the sari to their needs. We, the children of India by former chief justice Leila Seth makes the words of the preamble to the constitution understandable to even the youngest reader.

Why are you afraid to hold my hand by Sheila Dhir inspired by the spastic society of India is a celebration of the normalcy of the differently abled. Mathematwist-Number tales from around the world. each story sets the brain ticking encouraging problem solving skills with a high quotient of fun.

The best advice is to choose books that we like for we would be reading to them again and again,our fondness for literature would rub of on them. Beginning with board books of world around them, best is to avoid fantasy untill six years of age when they are able to distinguish reality and make believe.children also like Rhyme and poetry . teaching how to Handle a book and care for them having a low bookshelf helps. Going to a library to choose books and attending Story time is a great experiance.Listening to your children’s interpretation of a story gives a good understanding of their learning. Reading to children, no matter their  age develops a bond  and enriching our lives forever.As children explore books we will find soon what triggers their interest and moves them further.

Go ahead Hoarde Books , for  it’s not Hoarding if it’s not Books !


Where is the Friends Home


On a sunny day Abbas Karistiomi ‘s film was screened for all the trainers, teachers and mentors. watching the Iranian film “Where is the Friends Home” was emotionally and a spiritually fulfilling experience. The movie comprised of non actors and a seven-year old boy, who was a refreshing hero of purity. A  childs story ,a comic epic showcasing the heroics of a student in a school in the village of Kokar in Iran. The movie raised more questions than answering them,it had a distinct intellectual air, a modest straightforward movie. A strange familiarity of Kokar to the villages we traverse, The people struck a note of familiarity of having traversed our path.Things that are trivial to adults are of considerable magnitude for Ahmed. Cherishing the moments we could not fathom, all the adults in the movie did not care a damn for Ahmed’s empathy for his friend or the sense of duty that drove him to find his friend.Ahmed’s ” doing the right thing”, The boy risking his all to return his friend’s notebook who had to complete the homework or the teacher would punish him.This is in conflict with the adult world So Ahmed traverses for long to find his friend’s home after having completed all the chores assigned by his mother, listening to the barbs of his grandfather wanting to spank him to discipline him, for it was done to him too.

The monumental search in a very adult world where the teacher strikes a chord of discipline in all the students. The movie ends with Ahmed doing his friend’s home work and is checked by the teacher and appreciated for it. This is the story of a good boy not giving up till the end, nor disobeys his unrelenting teacher. The teacher here is clearly unhappy person. On a reflecting note teachers in schools forget to see the child’s perspective. This is very visible in the movie. forgetting that they are in the noblest of professions of serving the children and liberating them. slipping through the filters we use in judging a teacher who have to facilitate learning. This movie is one of the fifteen movies to be watched by children by the age of fifteen suggested by British film institute (BFI). A must watch for all teachers,parents, educationists and academicians.we agree that The three important R’s to be practiced by teachers is Responsibility, Respect, and Reflection. Working with children needs psychological acumen, sensitivity towards child development and rigorous practice. Adding further its important the teachers practice the highest values in both professional and personal life, have the skills to nurture children and not enslave them to discipline. Here the arena is for the heart and mind, requiring integrity in practice.

essentially this is an illustration of the  of Paulo freire’s attack on   Banking concept of education where the child is not seen as empty account to be filled in by the teacher, they are not passive but active learners .a child learns that not all his elders say is right and rules  are broken ,how authority and righteousness does not mix,Ahmed learns so much in the day depicted. A must watch for all !

Buddha like dispositions – Reflections


Montessories are simple and grey, very orderly environments.There is a buzz but no chaos! The Montessori teachers days are always packed, back to back in preparing the environment and its constant upkeep.Children though  work  oblivious of all. There is an incident that’s narrated by E M .Standing where a visitor happened to visit the Casa on a Holiday to see for himself the great revelations that everybody was talking of, in the Tenements of San Lorenzo in Italy.The visitor was not disappointed rather the children said ” nevermind we can show what u came looking for”! All of them began to work as if it was natural for them! The same thing could be seen in the Montessori environments today , they work with joy and interest .

What is  Montessori ? as educators we are asked constantly by all.sometimes The visitors seem to border on provoking ,for they  Know not,  for Montessorians think and talk of promoting the child  than put out as an economic option . we don’t seem to care for we know our tasks and we are at it day on day. The Parents who genuinely  seek the same, want it for children for the same reasons as we do. What is it that’s unique of the method? This makes us focus on our innerselves,on our interpretations of the philosophy.

At times ,we say we are unique and different . This might also distance other educators from whom we can learn . Montessori is a verb an action and not a thing. It casts its spell and acts out.Oh! am I objectifying and admiring Montessori and forgetting “The Child” we ask ourselves. In our quest to be more Montessori ,being  critical  we  are sending the wrong message that there is only one goal and we are done with training and are montessorians  at the end of nine months of training.

When living Montessori, it has different embodiments ,it is more of finding commonalities with developments  to unite than to separate. Acknowledging to grow with children year after year.  our Failures are the lessons learnt ,our lives  like the material are self-correcting errors in our lives to be worked at. we tell the teacher  trainees to follow the child, what of it ?A slogan! No, for them they need to train on observation ,knowledge and attention. Very daunting for the undrafted worker, for is  it better to follow the presentations ? No, but pushing ourselves to remember what drove us as children and drives us now will help in our work  .

The work of montessorians is to help reveal the powers of the spiritual embryo,proclaim for what the child is ,the father of the Man. In our quest for normalisation  a condition of true nature, by focusing on this goal are we going away from our children??? each child needs compassion and empathy.when parents pamper children and do everything for them we are upset and frustrated that children don’t respond quickly. we see the crying child , children not working ,the distracted child  we only see the child who is yet to come. Revering the child for her potential and respecting for the promise she holds is our vision.

As for being saints in Montessori ,The need for being in the present ,accepting ourselves,the noise ,the life and all of it with the children.we are saintly when we help each other as adults, of what children do constantly in a montessori .we are saintly when we stop doing,stop complaining ,and stop fretting !  Teachers  often are immersed in the elements of the environment ,practising presentations, pouring over plans,yes all this is important but not as important as love for children. who is this child we ask ?it’s that child who cries, who throws a fit,who hides ,who is polite ,the helpful child.Each child is ‘the child ‘.All are filled with the greatest of potential ,recognising it and serving well is important.

There are many questions that plague the teachers. tasks are important and critical ,but the lived failures helps us in our journey. It’s important to find the teacher with the magic and not just techniques they are skilled at. The humanitarian ground we have chosen is the most difficult work , for each of us thought we do it better .A Montessori community with the belief and committment to its ideals by offering grace to others of what we offer to children, for its challenging by the nature, but what a party it is for all !

Speaking to teachers when on  panels, most often the opinion is we choose Montessori for we love children, it satisfies the inner drive, the pieces of our own heart it fills. Teachers can go wild with all the busyness of maintaining an environment of learning. Though the teachers keep it simple with value and purpose and complete it with beauty . we do not clutter the environment any further, to not clutter the child’s mind. Interested as the teachers of the young are ,they appreciate the individuality and uniqueness of every child. We offer in a Montessori immense possibilities and options for fulfilling them knowing the strengths of our academic material, our children always get a head start early in life. Beyond our work of preparing the environment for the untouchable centre is what we design around and offer.

Despite the pressures and frustrations we want the child to learn within our time frame. But it’s not about us, for the child has walked into the sun. The world is a symphony and we always begin with a true prayer spoken.

Inspired by Dr Catherine McTamaney’s inspirational work linking Lao-tzu 81 verses, a series of meditations on the teacher’s craft of bringing a smile on all montessorians.





skills beget skills

DSCN9468Children in a Montessori are endowed with abilities of leadership,sociability,teamwork and  are natural to their abilities and potential .

I meet children with grit and charm who chat  up and keep me involved in a conversation for an  expanse of time .Oh, I love their enthusiasm to share, and the unconditional love that pours out .The environment is such a bustling place like  a Beehive ,it seems to be too perfect to be true! That’s the Montessori Magic which seems very utopian to visitors but  are all  converted  followers after only a glimpse. Mind you ,always take a tour of the Montessori and contemplate on the way of life it offers!  The Montessori environment with its magical weave will envelope all for a lifetime of growth and learning.Vitamin M works wonders for all !

The farewells of  Parents who were overwhelmed with emotions when their children bade goodbye from the   primary environment were all stepping out into mainstream schools made me feel contended. The work space for Trained facilitator could not get better as its very rewarding and joyful being in a Montessori  .

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so it’s not always fun but a gamut of work, planning and strategy  into every eventful year.Dr Montessori rightly said the role of a trained adult is that of Butler  at the service of the bride who enters the new Home,ready on call  ! children’s enthusiasm  is contagious and  they want to  share the cakes their Mothers Bake with us, to  wanting to know the reason for any changes  in display or appearance of their work place .Teachers beware we don’t step inside without preparation. The work and the approach that children tread will surely reflect the path they take . children  are always the touchstone in a Montessori. One glimpse and we know the day being normal and serene for learning to have gone by peacefully.

These indicators are there as to show how holistic development is key and  integral to learning.Montesori children function differently at home where they are constantly assailing their parents for work or they are bored .There are also children who sing and dance and play as if the Montessori tempo continued at home too .Value based learning and character formation is crucial in young children .The seeds sown are nurtured with care  only to branch out into a strong tree with its roots firmly grounded. all children turnout  to be well-rounded and have accomplished acclaim in  several spheres of life.

On a reflective mood  I set forth, have I worked on the deliverables, of the non cognitive skills of children which are crucial for holistic development???In the present scenario where learnability and soft skills are becoming key determiners of employability,James Heckman’s Equation “skills beget skills ” holds ground .skills nurtured in children grow up to be a success with larger skills in life. skills can be fostered by families and schools, which is a dynamic process  and the payoffs are high for early investment.The role of families is to produce capabilities by way of quality parenting through parental engagement, involvement and stimulation.These skills are indicators of productivity ,an  approach where interventions yield results and enhances them further on has to be practised .Children are good in something and not so good in something  ,all these can be shaped as long as the seed is firm and growing. Montessori is, assistance given to the child in the course of his fundamental development,for whats not negotiable is failure to adapt to changing needs of children.

ASER 2016 implications 

The much eagerly awaited annual status 2016 report was there, what were the outcomes of the annual status of education report ?The officials are up finally . The indicators were reading and Math .  

Children learn always ,but are they actually learning and learning  well ????  The data showed otherwise ,India was in a  big stuck as far as basic learning went .There were rising aspirations and parents were sending children to tuitions as well , was it because of low faith in schools ????

Many families were unable to identify or support their children not learning and schools were focused on completing curriculum rather than on learning as there was no good foundation in the early years. The curriculum was linear and children were behind! 

Another challenge is whether skills being taught to children today were going to be relevant in the years ahead ?? Children were learning only grade content and was there value being added to time spent in school?

Children though learn ,but late and had very little chance of catching up . More of the same wouldn’t help .The learning outcomes of children in private schools was steady but not enhanced.Finally something seems happening,the new NEP is being drafted and sustainable development goals for education framed .The key challenge is personalisation and to think concretely and strategies devised .To change the learning status and improve educational outcomes is to organise differently and to reach where the need is ! Excerpts from ASER 2016