Coping with the Covid-19 Adversity the Montessori way: Opportunity to Create, Innovate & Progress
As I write this, it is November 2020 and the world is still reeling under the effects of the Covid –19. The United Kingdom and some countries in Europe have commenced a second lock-down. All over the world, the Coronavirus disease seems to be surging with a new force. Here in Nigeria, schools have only recently re-opened in some parts of the country since the shutdown in March while in some states of the country, schools have still not re-opened. Teachers, parents and children are struggling with different versions of online teaching and learning being provided by different schools. Parents are complaining seriously about adding their
children’s online learning to the many challenges they currently face on a daily basis.
Alongside the complex problems of the pandemic, we are also contending with political issues, different kinds of security problems, severe economic hardship and the list goes on. All sectors of the economy are struggling like never before. Most people are out of jobs or earning only a much reduced salary. Business owners are overwhelmed and are laying off staff as there is no income with which to pay them. The effects of the pandemic in addition to all our other predicaments are too numerous and too complex to enumerate. It is, indeed, a tough time for everyone, one that has lasted for so long, is still ongoing and we do not
know when it will get better. What then should we do? How do we survive this extremely trying period in our lives? Can we dare to contemplate how to not only survive but also progress in the midst of all these woes?
As Montessorians, we know it is very possible to survive the extreme difficult times we are facing now and even use it as a great opportunity to leap into progress by using our Montessori trained creativity, concentration, focus, determination to innovate and create. Yet, we must do this the Montessori way – treat each other with empathy, respect, kindness, grace and courtesy. We must remember that we are all part of a national and international community and that we are interdependent in so many ways. This understanding and co-operation with one another will open up ways we can survive and even progress during this period.
This Covid-19 period is a special period in our lives. It is a time of great difficulties which most people alive now have never experienced before - battling unarmed against a deadly but unseen enemy who seems to be everywhere at the same time!
But it is at periods like this that great people are formed. While seeking solutions to the immense difficulties they face and refusing to back down, give up or accept the harsh difficulties as inevitable, great people develop incredible solution-based habits, characters, ideas and innovations that will not only solve their current problems but also propel them to greater success which will also benefit the world long after they are gone!
------ Dr Tina Udoji
I urge you to continuously consider various honest ways you can improve your lot. Allow your creativity juice to flow. Let your mind be lifted and animated so you can initiate, support or contribute in any small way at every opportunity. Do not only wait for that one ‘big opportunity’ to do great things but rather recognize and welcome every little opportunity to do little things in amazing ways that will stand you out and improve your situation.
Remember, as long as we are alive, we still have a chance to do great things. Let us recall that Maria Montessori lived during a very challenging time. While studying medicine, she was the only female in a class filled with males. She was met with hostility and harassment from some medical students and professors because of her gender. Because her attendance of classes with men in the presence of a naked dead body was deemed inappropriate, she was required to perform her dissections of cadavers alone, in the night, for long hours. It was actually during those difficult periods, in the early hours of the mornings, while coming back from those classes that she started developing her incredible habits of observation, deep concentration, reflection, and empathy amongst others which propelled her to discover and develop the Montessori Method of Education.
She went round the world, in ships, not aeroplanes, teaching, testing and perfecting her method. She lived and worked right through the First World War (1914 to 1918) and the Second World War (1939 to 1945) in addition to the other many challenges of her time. In spite of all these difficulties, Maria Montessori went on to become very successful; she became an icon and gave the world a legacy – The Montessori Method of Education.
Strengthened by the example set by Dr Maria Montessori herself, we must also lead by example and direct our attention to important issues, not just in the Montessori world but also in our families, communities, countries and the wide world surrounding us. As we encourage ourselves and each other in our positive efforts to improve our lives despite the challenging times, let our collective values guide us. Like Maria Montessori, we must develop the positive and creative habits that will help us rise above the challenges surrounding us right now. We can dare to work firmly to survive and progress using the current difficulties as an opportunity to flex our creative and mental muscles to find solutions.
At the same time, let us continue to develop an understanding and inclusive community where our diversity becomes a strength, everyone is respected, different cultures and tribes are accepted, respected and celebrated; empathy is promoted, cultural competency is cultivated and inclusion deepened. Together, let us strive for that world peace that Maria Montessori believed that true education can give us.