Progressing in Providing High Quality Education in Africa:
Our past does not define our future in Montessori Education.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that development is like a series of rebirths. In Nigeria and the rest of Africa, the Montessori Method of education is sometimes partly understood, partly misunderstood, mostly misunderstood or not known at all. However, there is something that cannot be denied about the African parents – they want quality education for their children.
They want their children to grow up into successful adults and useful members of their society. But they are not so sure about how to achieve this goal. They do not know how the Montessori Method of education can help achieve it.
The schools are in the same situation. They are doing their best with the knowledge and skills they have to give high quality education to the children in their care. But to achieve what we all desire in education, we must realise and make use of the power of synergy.
In this case, I take synergy to mean parents, educators and schools working together to create greater results than one person, school or organisation can accomplish on their own. This is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Dr. Maria Montessori understood the extraordinary power of synergy when she taught us to see that all things are interdependent. In her teaching of the Cosmic Education, she said:
''We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are a part of the
universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity''
– Dr. Maria Montessori
We must, therefore, recognise our interdependence and advocate for connectedness so that all parts of each school work in harmony to support the child's work in creating the adult he is to become.
Creating and harnessing the power of synergy in our schools require:
- Creating time and opportunity for all members of the school to share
perspectives and thoughts.
- Encouraging open-minded listening.
- Understanding and appreciating all members' perspectives and ideas.
- Identifying and clarifying the schools’ goals, mission and vision.
- Developing an understanding and a consensus about the steps to take to
reach those goals.
- Reviewing, evaluating and reflecting on the results of this combined effort.
Planning for the future.Authentic Montessori education helps us to understand the importance of recognising and accepting our differences so we can celebrate our diversities.
In Nigeria and indeed the whole of Africa where we have many different cultures and differences, this understanding and celebration of our diversities is even more critical to education and development in Africa. When we do this, we ignite the awesome power of synergy and great things start to happen to education and development!