Today Is The 142 Years Anniversary Of Maria Montessori’s Birth. I Went To A ‘Montessori’, in Ceylon, In 1958.
…by Anura Guruge
So how many of you noticed this intriguing icon in Google today? It caught my eye. So I put my cursor on it to see what it signified. Google said: Maria Montessori’s 142nd birthday. Wow. Thank you, Google. I would not have known.
She is a tad older than me, so I didn’t know her personally. But, my father (and to a lesser extent my mother, if she was alive) will maintain that her philosophy of early childhood education molded my life. I personally think that that is a slight over exaggeration.
Yes, when I was about 5 I was sent to a Montessori school in central Colombo. I can still see it clearly in my minds eye. It was airy and very pleasant.
I distinctly remember two things from my year or so at that Montessori school. I had the hardest time mastering how to tie laces using a ‘learn-to-tie-your-laces‘ contraption they had; though you see them readily now, I think that it was ahead of its time in 1958. The teachers told my parents, based on just that inability, that I was a bit slow — and you have to give them full marks for getting that so right, so early in my life.
We also had a large slide on the wrap around front portico. I, observant as ever (especially when it comes to the ladies) and always naive, told my parents, on the way home, one day, that I noticed that the girls wore underwear underneath their skirts and that boys, as was the norm in (the never below) 80°F Ceylon, wore nothing under their shorts — having noticed all of this watching kids come down the slide.
My father, who does have a good sense of humor, laughed. My mother, an out-and-out prude, all her life, was very quiet; shocked. My father is an anecdote machine. So, this Montessori observation by me, at the age of 5, was added to his repertoire and for the next 20 years I would hear him tell various folks about it — around the world: Ceylon, U.K., Buffalo, Paris, Bangkok etc. So, I was never allowed to forget my year (or so) at Montessori. At long last, I did learn to tie laces.
Not really sure whether the Montessori school taught me anything that useful other than that young ladies wore underwear.
Ours was an education crazy household and I was an only child.
My mother was a teacher. Her younger sister, who lived with us (with their mother), was also a teacher. My father, at that time, was Acting Secretary of Education for Ceylon and was busy trying to set up a Buddhist university. I used to spend all my weekends and holidays with an aunt and uncle — who didn’t have any children. On Friday afternoons they would come and pick me up and I would get home Sunday night or Monday morning. Yes, it was just like having divorced parents, but I did this by choice — and had done so since I was about 3.
They, my aunty and uncle, used to come and see me, nearly every day, since I was a baby. He was white, a Baptist and a lawyer — the lawyer for the Food Dept. He dabbled with electric stuff and as such was called by all my cousins ‘Light Mama‘ – essentially electric uncle. None of that for me!
I called him ‘Ta‘, yes, just two words: ‘Ta‘. Had done so ever since I could speak. It was my 2nd or 3rd word. ‘Tatta‘ in Ceylon is ‘father‘. ‘Ta’ is the first two letters. I was a made man! He childless, thought I was the cat’s whiskers. He took me, nearly every day, to see steam rollers and trains. I was told that at lunch time he would drive around looking to see where there were new road works so he could take me to see them later. He was a huge influence on my life. My poor father, he had so much competition for my attention – another uncle, a doctor, also influencing how I grew up. The lawyer’s wife, my mother’s sister, was also a teacher. Actually the Assistant Principal of Ceylon’s largest and most prestigious boys school.
I didn’t have a chance. I was trapped. Between my father, my mother, my two aunts and ‘Ta’ (who taught me all sorts of stuff about mechanical stuff and cricket), there was no escaping. By the time I was three I could read in both Sinhalese and English. So by the time I went to Montessori I was fairly well set — though I couldn’t tie laces or had not unraveled the mysteries of female underwear.
Next to Italy, Ceylon is somehow a cradle for Montessori schools and teaching. I am not sure how or why. I know that my father knows. We were never colonized by the Italians. So I am not sure how Montessori made it to Ceylon. I know so many Montessori teachers from Ceylon — if they are not doctors, the odds are that any Sri Lankan ladies you meet in the U.S. are Montessori teachers.
But, anyway, I am glad that Google gave a chance to document my little past with Montessori.
…by Anura Guruge
On Sunday, and I think it might have been on the Bloomberg TV channel, I heard a young reporter talking about the start of the Tampa convention mention something along the lines: ‘… tomorrow at 10 ante meridiem they will gavel open the convention …‘!
Wow. My ears pricked up and my interest was piqued. I, of course, knew what he meant but I hadn’t heard that lovely phrase that just rolls of your tongue in decades!
‘Ante Meridiem’, A.M., AM; Before Midday.
Post meridiem, P.M., PM. After Midday.
I just asked Devanee. I guess they never taught her that in 6 years of schooling. She is very good at guessing. So, ‘PM’ was ‘past morning‘ — which to be fair works. ‘AM’ for after morning, however, didn’t work.
I asked a few others. ‘PM’ was ‘past midday’ — which works.
But, the Latin is so beautiful, as Latin invariably is. Another time related Latin term that we do not give thought to: ‘AD‘ – Anno Domini (AD), after Christ. In my books, influenced by my father (who adopted it in his writings a long time ago he also being very adept at using the Buddhist calendar), I now use CE and BCE more and more, though in my pope books nobody really would have an issue with AD and BC.
[2012 is 2556 in the Buddhist calendar used in Sri Lanka. 56 years ago, in 1956, when I was 3, it was year 2500. Big celebrations right through the year. My father, then 28, was in charge of these celebrations. It was a big deal. People still talk about it. I remember bits of it.]
My only issue with BC and AD is that the dating is wrong — and being the pedantic devil I am, it bothers me to use a designation that is incorrect. For those that are not familiar with this issue (despite it being widely known and discussed), the current scholarly consensus as to when Jesus was born, based on historical studies, is between 6 BC and 4 BC. So, the BC/AD designation per se, per the wording used, is 4 to 6 years out (and that without factoring in all of the confusion caused over the years by us not having started at year zero.). So, an added advantage of the increasingly used BCE and CE, where CE refers to ‘Common Era’, is that it glosses over, kind of fudges, the 4-6 year discrepancy.
Anyway, just wanted to document AM and PM. Another lovely Latin/Italian word that I got to savor this morning, when doing a pope post, was ‘biglietto’ — for ticket.
…by Anura Guruge
They changed the seating arrangement to a more traditional one on Friday, September 7, 2012.
Monday night, from 6pm to 7pm, was Open House at Alton Central. I liked Teischan’s 1st Grade Class Room. The teacher, who I had met last year, was very nice and you could tell that she was trying hard and had spent a lot of time over the Summer getting things ready for the classroom. You could tell. I was impressed. [My mother was a teacher; my father, at 83, still teaches and when I had called him that Monday I was told that he had gone to the University to set up his room.]
I was taken aback by how the tables for the 17 kids were arranged. I first thought that it was an ad hoc set up just for the Open House — but was told that it was how the kids will sit in the weeks and months to come. I was surprised but didn’t want to say anything in front of the other parents.
The set up is as depicted in my diagram above. I went and checked the dimensions of the desks online. From what I can see they are 18″ deep, 24″ wide and the height can be adjusted.
There is ZERO separation between the desks. They are pushed together, 9 tables to a pod.
The kids are sitting, at most 44 inches, NOSE-to-NOSE.
Yes, I know that the staff at ACS will produce 40 research studies, from around the world, to prove that this nose-to-nose, shoulder-to-shoulder seating configuration is the one most conducive for contemporary teaching (if not learning). I will only have one question: ‘were any of them done in a school in New Hampshire with at best, sub-bar mechanical ventilation?’
My foremost concern is health related.
Six weeks from now the sniffles will start. Then the sneezing and the coughing. Soon the flu season will be in full swing. With this kind of seating arrangement we are not giving these poor kids even a fighting chance. Of course, exchanging germs is a treasured rite of passage in New England. But, do we really want the kids exposed to this? Lets face it. These are 6 year olds. They are going to sneeze, wheeze and cough. Their noses and mouths are 44″ apart. Most married couples don’t sleep that close!
This teacher, most likely on her own dime, had provided two huge hand sanitizer pump bottles, one for the boys and the other for the girls, next to their bathroom passes. I was impressed. That was good. And then this …
Yes, space might be an issue, also given the modern notion that a classroom has to be multimodal, or whatever. If space is the issue I am sure an architect or somebody familiar with CAD/CAM can help the school out. Worst case I can do a perfectly to scale PowerPoint, with all the furniture and equipment, and they can drag and drop the objects to see how they can fit 17 desks without the kids having to be 44″ nose-to-nose.
…by Anura Guruge
Alas, it is NOT mine! It is also NOT for sale — though, obviously, as the saying correctly foretells, everything and everybody does have a price. This is his 2nd Jensen-Healey. He had his 1st in College but had to sell it when he had his first child. So now, quite a bit older, he is determined to hold onto this — and I understand. He worked on this car for a long time. It looks fabulous. Sounds good too. Great job. He is very happy and proud; as he should be. [As is always the case the wife refers to it as his ‘mid-life crisis’. I told her yesterday that I hope he has quite few more crises.]
I won’t divulge where the car is or who owns it — though he is quite famous in Alton circles. It is NOT on our road — so don’t bother coming cruising around. It is also garaged and they have a long driveway going up a steep incline. So you won’t even see the garage from the road.
If you really, really, really want to see this Healey e-mail me and I will SEE if I can arrange for you to see it. Otherwise just keep an eye for it on Rte 28 in Alton or at Prospect Mountain High School. No guarantee. It is not registered right now.
I would, as a Brit, like to have another British sports car. I have owned 4: 2 Spitfire 1500s (one bright red and the other Pageant Blue (a color I hated, but the only color I could get in 1978), a TR7 convertible (the 3rd but last built) and an MG Midget (that I bought from a neighbor, in Gilford, in 2000). I always wanted a Triumph Stag — which I consider the most beautiful car of that era, prior to the TR7. The unreliability of the Stag, even by British standards of the time, were legendary. I was always told that if I got one I would have to replace the engine with a U.S. V8. So, I ended up getting the TR7. I had a look the other day on eBay just out of curiosity. Only 1 listing for a Stag! Wow.
I had a rich friend back in the UK, in the 70s, who had a Jensen Interceptor. That was the only car that I knew that was more prone to failure than the stag. It was his pride and joy — but it was always breaking down. It would always be a call, from a phone booth (this being way, way, way before cell phones), I am stuck I will be late. Driving off in the Interceptor was going to be the highlight of his extremely lavish wedding, to a dentist, at a stately manor house. Yes, you guessed it. The Jensen didn’t work! He took it quite well.
…by Anura Guruge
Normally my (supposedly) dedicated, 10Mbps to the house broadband internet access works flawlessly — just as a utility should. It is there, it is constant and it is stable. Since Friday I have been having a heck of a time. Around noon Saturday I had zero, yes ‘0’, upload bandwidth. So I couldn’t upload anything. Download bandwidth was down to about 3Mbps. It was slow.
It has been awfully erratic since then. Sometimes, as you can see from the above screen shot, I get the bandwidth I am paying for. Around those readings I am fine. Yes, I would LOVE more bandwidth. I will gladly pay more for more bandwidth. But, this another one of the travails of living in rural NH. We don’t get much choice and we don’t get much bandwidth. Oh, to have Verizon FiOS! Alas.
TDS claims to offer higher bandwidth, e.g., 25Mbps, in NH but every time I call they say ‘Ah! Not where YOU live’.
Right now I would be happy if I could just have constant bandwidth. Without bandwidth I am a fish without water. I can’t do anything on my computer. As I write I am waiting for a TDS technician to appear. I might have to call again.
I did not start off with TDS. 26 months ago, in June 2010, I signed up with our local Union Tel. for the new, dedicated, 10Mbps fiber to the house service. Sounded good and the price was very reasonable. Yes, it took them 6 days to get me a stable, reliable service — in the end they classed me a business account and gave me a dedicated IP address. Since then, until this Friday, things were good — during that time we only had one long, 12 hour, outage.
TDS bough Union Tel. shortly after I became a customer. For about a year that didn’t make a difference. Now it does. TDS telephone support really tries hard to please. But, they have NO CLUE and NO INFORMATION about my Internet service other than how much I have to pay. Yes, basically ALL they have on me and know about me is my billing information. They can’t even PING ‘their’ TDS router. Until this weekend that was OK. They didn’t have to do anything.
Now it is a problem. I am hoping they can fix this. Otherwise I am sunk, I am screwed.
I was a Metrocast cable and Internet customer for a long time, for over 11 years. I was one of their first Internet customers in the Lakes Region. Over that time I got very au fait with how their Internet access worked. 80% of the time I could troubleshoot the problem ahead of their tech. But, as with ALL utilities in Alton, Metrocast in Alton was not what it was in Gilford or Meredith. I do not know what it is with Alton but we are definitely the poor cousins. On this road with Metrocast, on a Saturday night, when most of those on the road were using their Metrocast cable, bandwidth would drop precipitously. Similar to what I am having with TDS today; difference being that I knew Metrocast cable was a shared access media while with TDS I am paying for a dedicated line to the C.O. in Barnestead.
Since June 2010 Metrocast has upgraded their service to Alton. They pulled some new Fibre and upgraded their network equipment. They now offer 25Mps download and 2Mbps upload. I just got off the phone after long, very productive, very pleasant chat with a Metrocast rep in Pennsylvania. He understands my issues. He himself has never used the 25 Mbps. He used the 12Mbps, albeit in PA. Yes, his bandwidth drops to 10Mbps on Friday and Saturday nights. That is about a 17% drop. If I get a 25% drop I will be down to 18Mbps. That will still be twice what I get, best case, with TDS. Yes, I will be paying more, but bandwidth, to me, is a necessity.
So, I might be going back to Metrocast. They are all set to send a tuck over here the next day. I also have a ‘magic’ name of a person to call to have it all expedited. Stay tuned. If you don’t see any new posts you will know that my Internet is down.