Drawing:: Olivia Jeffries Sublime

Three weeks ago I began my training as a Montessori teacher at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. I could not have anticipated the change that would begin to occur in my mind, body, and spirit. I have been engaged in an intense routine of lectures, presentations, reading, writing and practice. I am grateful for my wise professors, and for my fellow classmates, along for the journey. 

A sure cornerstone of the Montessori method is the well prepared adult. The preparation not only includes a deep knowledge of the child’s development, but also a paradigm shift of the role of the adult, requiring humility and an open heart. It involves both a practical preparation as well as a spiritual preparation.

Montessori writes, “The real preparation for education is a study of one’s self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character, it is a preparation of the spirit.” (The Absorbent Mind)

I am being challenged to identify my own failings and misgivings. Prejudices and judgements have no room in the classroom. In order to view each child with dignity, I must leave negativity at the door, not projecting any of my own expectations. When I enter the environment with open eyes, eager to observe what is true, I can evolve with the needs of the child, serving his developing spirit. True teaching requires copious amounts of daily observation – being plugged into the changes occurring within the child. Love requires knowledge, and knowledge comes through observation.

As I practice this paradigm shift in the environment of the classroom, I am challenged as I return to the world. How do I treat those around me? Do I bring unrealistic expecations to relationships, or project constant judgement on those I meet? Do I truly observe the world around me, taking note of details, emotions, and experiences? As I quiet my heart in this process, I continue to unearth a spirit of pride and judgement that is difficult to confront. This level of self-realization requires a work of the soul.

And I ask, did I sign up for a teacher training course, or a radical process of self-develpoment?

I am eager to continue in this work of preparation, with the hope that I will be an educator who is humble and a willing servant. And also that I would be a citizen of the world, who is eager to love and honor those around me.


August 27, 2009

love you smell :: Olivia Jeffries

love you smell :: Olivia Jeffries

The changing of seasons is undoubtably one of the most gracious pieces of the human expereince. A new schedule,weather system, and line up of vegetables re-energizes me. My heart lends itself to the blank slate of a new time, and is inspired to re-examine and re-explore places that have gotton lost in the hot, dragging on of summer days.

This new season includes much time to be in both the ceramics and the painting studio. I feel room to explore the dirty walls and really try to make something beautiful. I did not engage the visual arts much this summer, but much like riding a bike, I remembered quickly how it all works and how much I dearly love the process::

The smell of mineral spirits and oil paint. The way my body aches after wedging clay and throwing pots. The continual messiness that is my hair, face, clothing, car, etc. An excuse to go to Porch’s Art supplies and dream about what gorgeous paper or new shades of color can be transformed into. Late nights leaving campus, wandering into the starlit night with deep satisfaction. Granola and water and coffee for many meals. The quiet of self and the gentle interactions with classmates and professors.

This is a space and time that I love. The rain came down hard last night, with thunder and lightening that are special to Oklahoma skies. The porch held us graciously with its twinkle lights and wine. In our hearty conversation and honest confessions we welcomed in the unknown days, the shift of season, and the hope of something more whole.