School Makes My Head Hurt

As I have long suspected, ordinary school is a big headache.

New research from the U.S. Nationwide Children’s Hospital found there’s a 31 percent uptick in headaches among children 5 to 18 years old in the fall, according to Science Daily.

These headaches were likely caused by schedule changes and an increase in after-school activities, the study said. Headaches may also be the result of poor sleep schedules and low amounts of exercise due to the demands of a school day and homework.

If only someone would design a healthy school that didn’t bore kids into a stupor. Maybe someone like a doctor could do it.

The Dog Ate It

Homework makes kids unhappy. It makes parents unhappy too.

Family stress increased as homework load increased and as parent’s perception of their capacity to assist decreased.

Golly if only someone would invent a system of schools that doesn’t have homework assignments at all.

Gunn High School senior Akila Subramanian, as quoted by Haddock, summed the situation up perfectly, “It all comes down to whether adults trust us to learn. Having no homework lets you find your own motivations.” Rather than just focusing on academic developments, Montessori advocated aiding the overall development of each child as a human being. The more freedom children have to make up their own problems and choose their own work, the more they will challenge themselves and the better able they will become at evaluating themselves. What you believe about a child is exactly what the child will believe about himself or herself – and that is one of the most important factors in school success.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Built between 1983 and 1986, it is among Vienna’s most visited buildings and is one of a number of Hundertwasser’s original and disorderly works here and elsewhere in Europe that reflect his rejection of straight lines (“an uneven floor is a melody to the feet”) and rigidity, which he believed was fundamentally alien to “humanity, life and the whole of creation”.

I would like to know what he built with the brown stair.

Tantrums And Reason

When a child decides to see what happens when she forgoes all socially acceptable behavior in favor of a tantrum, I think they’re trying to learn. It’s a strategy. The child may be trying to learn if you mean what you say, or if your limits aren’t really there. And that’s what this study says too.

Over the longer term, compromise ‘made all behavioural problems worse for the most oppositional toddlers’, the study’s authors Robert Larzerle and Sade Knowles found.

Reasoning, however, was most effective after two months for these children, despite being the least effective response immediately.

The authors wrote that they found it ‘surprising’ that reasoning worked in the end with ‘oppositional’ infants.

They wrote: ‘To our surprise, frequent use of reasoning decreases behavior problems subsequently with oppositional toddlers, even though it is the least effective response for immediate reduction of noncompliance.

Here’s something to consider.

Our intervention in this marvelous process is indirect; we are here to offer this life, which came into the world by itself, the means necessary for its development. And having done that, we must await its development with respect. — Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook

To The Principal’s Office

It’s what they wanted in the first place.

Miss Wong said the study showed that punishing a bully does not often work and in fact could enhance bullies’ social status through notoriety.

The article goes on to explain that bullies are not intellectually stunted, nor are they unable to control their supposedly wild emotions. They have in fact calmly and rationally decided that bullying is the best way for them to advance themselves. And in an ordinary school environment, they may be absolutely correct.

Doctor Montessori writes about this sort of thing a long time ago.

As to punishments, we have many times come in contact with children who disturbed the others without paying any attention to our corrections. Such children were at once examined by the physician. When the case provided to be that of a normal child, we placed one of the little tables in the corner of the room, and in this way isolated the child; having him sit in a comfortable little armchair, so placed that he might see his companions at work, and giving him those games and toys to which he seemed most attracted. This isolation almost always succeeded in calming the child; from his position he could see the entire assembly of his companions, and the way in which they carried on their work was an object lesson much more efficacious than any words of the teacher could have been. Little by little he would come to see the advantages of being one of the company working so busily before his eyes, and he would really wish to go back and do as the others did. We have in this way lead back again to discipline all the children who at first rebelled against it. The isolated child was made the object of special care, almost as if he were ill. I myself, when I entered the room, went first of all directly to him, caressing him as if he were a very little child. Then I turned my attention to the others, interesting myself in their work, asking questions about it as if they had been little men. I do not know what happened in the soul of those children whom we found it necessary to discipline, but certainly the conversion was always very complete and lasting. They showed great pride in learning how to work and how to conduct themselves, and always showed a very tender affection for the teacher and for me. — Dr. Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method (1912)

It should be noted that her definition of the word “discipline” changed after this early work. But for more on those details you’ll have to take the AMI training.

Sunshine And Mushrooms

Vitamin D is good.

Studying children from the ages of one to five, the study found that higher levels of Vitamin D were associated with lower levels of non-high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which has steadily been implicated as a predictor of future cardiovascular health. Should their findings hold firm, the study authors believe that it could point to “early life interventions for cardiovascular disease prevention.”

Human beings’ two main sources for Vitamin D are sunshine and mushrooms. But mostly sunshine. My AMI trainer told me that the Children’s House needs plenty of natural light.

Goo Goo

Ga Ga.

Psychologists at the University of York found new evidence that specific language used by mothers to talk to their babies can help their child to understand the thoughts of others when they get older.

The child is sensitive to language even “in the mysterious period which follows immediately after birth.” — Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

(Yes it’s not a fancy cover like the other publications, but in my opinion this is the best edition available). [Montessori, M. (1988) The Absorbent Mind. (C. Claremont, Trans.) Oxford, England: Clio Press. (Original work published 1948)]

Sticks And Stones

But words can never hurt me?

Calling a child a negative name (regardless of your intention) increases the likelihood that he or she will become that very thing.

For example, a new study conducted by psychologists at UCLA has shown that girls who are called fat by close relatives, friends, classmates or teachers before age 10 are more likely to become obese later in life.

The child is sensitive to language.

Never speak ill of the child in his presence or absence. — Dr. Maria Montessori