Charting the progress of twelve children in a real Texas classroom, educator Donna Goertz shows how positive change can occur given the proper environment. In each case she describes a child's transformation from destructive troublemaker to responsible citizen of the classroom community. Readers will learn how to apply Montessori methods to virtually any early elementary environment.
|Publisher:||North Atlantic Books|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.94(h) x 0.73(d)|
About the Author
Donna Bryant Goertz teaches in the Montessori School that she founded 30 years ago. She lives in Austin, TX.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Book Editor, writes the following, 'An Austin teacher with experience turning disruptive children into contributors to the classroom has written a book filled with riveting personal stories . . . (she) wrote the book to address society's problems. She believes that finding ways to reach troublesome children and include them, rather than label and exclude them, can benefit the whole group. It's something to think about with the recent outbreaks of school shootings and other violence, often brought on by kids who have been excluded or ridiculed . . . when you read about the kids and how they interact, it's a page-turner.' Anne Morris at the Austin American Statesman - Sunday, April 22, 2001. This book is an important contribution to the literature on violence in schools. Anne Morris is on target with her comments. For me, Goertz also provides us with a picture of an environment that truly addresses children's developmental needs. Is it not a fact that every child is at some point 'troubled' and wouldn't we feel just a bit more at ease knowing that our children were in a safe and caring environment during challenging moments. The educational environment that Goertz describes empowers children to help them help themselves. In an article that I contributed to, 'The Compelling Spiral of Crime', we were looking at the underlying causes as to why things go so terribly wrong for children with specific psychological profiles. We were looking more at ways (drugs and programs) to change the child. We overlooked changing the school environment. Goertz has gone to the root of a very unnerving problem, violence in the lives of our children, and she has provided us with a glimpse of the beautiful possiblities of the child's life. The stories in Goertz's book, told by the children, are compelling and offer a hope that all too many people have lost. Her way of working with children reminds me of Martin Buber's I and Thou.
I had the pleasure to read and comment on this book before publication, and I have been waiting impatiently for its appearance on bookstore shelves. For over 30 years, Donna Goertz has been painstakingly building a classroom culture that begins to resemble the ideal described in the works of Dr. Maria Montessori. While many settle for a diluted form of Montessori practice (e.g., accelerated math with fancy manipulatives), Goertz's aim is to serve Montessori's ultimate vision of a peaceful world inhabited by adults whose best impulses for creativity, altruism, self-knowledge and moral integrity had been supported at every step by a system of education based on the universal developmental needs of the child. To realize such a vision requires an uncommon level of skill and personal reflection on the part of the teacher. Goertz has a reputation for taking on the 'difficult' children that have not been successful in other educational settings, and much of the book is devoted to case studies of these children as they are gradually transformed by the Montessori classroom environment and Goertz's own masterful interventions. She calls these children 'weathervane children' because they are the ones who 'show which way the wind is blowing' in the classroom; i.e., being vulnerable themselves, they tend to be the first to show the effects of some aspect of the classroom community that is out of alignment with the true needs of the children. In this respect, says Goertz, they are the teacher's best friends, doing a great service to the community of those more robust children who may suffer in relative silence. (It has been said that the greatest impediment to the advancement of pedagogy is the resilience of children.) During the 1998-99 school year I assisted Goertz in her classroom, and it is gratifying to see that she has to a remarkable extent been able to capture in words the atmosphere of the school, the 'feel' of the classroom, and the personalities of the individual children about whom she writes. This book is not a handbook of 'classroom management,' a teacher's self-help book, a 'how-to' of Montessori techniques, a critique of traditional education, or an educational memoire. I see it as a lovingly detailed report on the progress of one long-term experiment in creating peaceful, peace-loving human beings through education of the whole person in community. Richly textured, it invites reading on many levels. The book should be of interest not only to classroom teachers, but also to parents (especially parents of 'difficult' children), spiritual leaders, school counselors, psychologists, sociologists, peace educators, and those interested in studies of community formation and life.