A Graduate’s Perspective
I come back to visit Clanmore often. Every time I come back I have the feeling that I’m coming home. There is no sense of intrusion or outgrowth, which I have felt palpably on the three times I have returned to my high school campus. I don’t have to wear a “visitor” sticker or sign in at the front desk. All I have to do is walk in the front door, remove my outdoor shoes, and walk into the classroom. Immediately, I feel the Clanmore magic welcome me back.
You see, that magic I just mentioned–it’s still there. The colours are still bright, the hugs are still warm and plentiful, and the energy is rich and vibrant. The magic is there, in the past, the present, in the future, transcending time.
Occasionally, when I mention I’ve recently visited, someone asks me if everything feels very small. I know what they mean. The sense that your teachers really are only regular size fully human beings—or even small! The sense that the classroom is less bright, the chairs less inviting, the enormous tomes you thought you could never finish are shockingly thin. Yes. I know what they mean; but I have never experienced that at Clanmore, and I know the magic is responsible. This is not to say there haven’t been changes. Now, a feature of rainy-day recesses includes a disco dance party in the basement. I can indignantly say that I never got to do that! I never did Girls on the Run, had the chance to arrange flowers weekly, or do the AIM French program.
The French program, actually, is a great example of how Clanmore has got it right. I live in Montreal. I took grade 12 and AP French in grade 11 at Appleby. It galls me to say it, but—those children speak with more fluency and confidence than I do. I, who spent 12 years in school learning French, who wrote essays and practiced tenses and memorized exceptions, am paralyzed when it comes to speaking French, because I’m afraid to get it wrong, because I was tested and marked on my ability to speak. Because of my fear of failure—a failure defined by some teacher who I didn’t even like—that fear inhibited my learning. And so now this AIM program which I never did, which exemplifies the Montessori ideals, has made Clanmore even better than it was when I attended.
Please don’t misunderstand me, Clanmore was still way ahead of the game when it came to education, even without AIM. I have brought the restitution theory to all my places of work and learning. Everyone treats it as an inspired idea. My residence rules at McGill were based on mutual respect, which someone argued is not a word understood by 18 year olds. I replied that I had learned that concept when I was seven. I struggled through grade 10 algebra until my teacher took some extra time with me, and used a Montessori material from the casa classroom called the trinomial cube. I never got a question wrong, after that. I flew through grade 11 biology, studying plant and animal anatomy, as well as the five kingdoms. I barely had to study. I knew it already. I had learned at Clanmore.
There is so much that I learned from Clanmore. It’s a magic place, with a community which you can’t find anywhere else. I’ve attended other highly thought-of academic institutions. It might impress those that care about names. Let me tell you—they’re not special. They’re just that—institutions. They aren’t the same. I’ll tell you why.
The magic. The magic is the love. The love of learning, the love of teaching, the love for each other. The commitment and passion which is drawn from that love. The dedication to the development of the whole child, Clanmore means “big family,” and who could ask for anything more?
by: Mary Morris
A Parent’s Perspective
A typical day for our children includes walks in the woods to explore and be inspired by nature, a social curriculum that takes into consideration the interconnected needs of everyone, and uninterrupted cycles of time to engage in in-depth study of areas of interest…Every time our children have their curiosity sparked by something they saw in the newspaper or noticed outside in nature, before you know it their teachers have pulled out a piece of Montessori material to support their investigation of it.
Montessori lessons come as one-on-one experiences, and as the children grow older, their need for social connection and intellectual stimulation comes together in small group lessons, carefully chosen in their timing and difficulty by the teacher. Once concepts are set into motion, the children have long periods of time that stretch into days or even weeks, whatever is needed, to explore and achieve mastery of a concept. The materials used in the lessons are endlessly appealing….
One particular example was demonstration by our daughter of the algebraic equation a2+2ab+b2=(a+b)2. This was done with something call a “hundred square”, a flat square of one hundred connected beads, and two elastic bands that divided the square in such a way that it visually demonstrated the equation. One of my epiphanies was seeing the area of a triangle being calculated by; using two triangles put together to make a rectangle, multiplying two sides of the rectangle, and dividing it by two. Remember “area = base x height 2” ? For the first time in my life I understood why it was done that way.
A Parent’s Perspective
Fostering A Love of Learning at Clanmore Montessori School
Like all good sceptics, my mother taught me that you can’t have your cake, and eat it too. So you can imagine how surprised I was to discover a school that understands not only the need to master the “academics” and the “advanced learning”, but also the vital importance of creating self confident, joyful, creative young learners with a love of learning that surpasses all expectations. And you can’t help notice that all their grade six graduates have gone to their first choice of middle school.
The school operates from a beautifully renovated historic Lakeshore building adjoining Joshua’s Creek Conservation Area in Oakville. The main entrance leads into the heart of the school, where despite the constant activity of both the teachers and children, you can’t help but notice how calm everything is. The children seem self-propelled. When you peek into the classrooms you won’t find a teacher standing before their students dictating the work of the day. It’s clear that the children know what they need to do and move independently throughout the space. The teachers are seen, quietly sitting with small groups of children, doing their work to motivate the young minds through a sophisticated and purposeful methodology that encourages children to search for their own solutions – a process which the child innately craves. They want to learn, they yearn to be capable. Clanmore believes it is their duty to create the environment that fosters this drive.
Like anything that runs this seamlessly, there is a tendency to underestimate the importance of Clanmore’s recipe for success: the vision, dedication, hard work and years of training that creates this type of environment. To start, the brilliant teachings of Maria Montessori a visionary in the field of child development and a champion of children. Montessori understood the awesome potential of the young mind and developed teaching tools to support and nurture that growth. The other ingredient, which makes Clanmore unique is the calibre of the teachers led by Grace Kidney, a thought leader and visionary in the field of elementary education. Ms. Kidney and her staff share the belief that before a child can learn they must feel safe from ridicule and safe from judgment. They believe, as Montessori did, that it is the duty of the teacher to be the advocate for the child and to provide the children with a fertile landscape which allows for the discovery and nurturing of self. With their keen comprehension of child development the teachers know that children learn at different rates and by various methods. Ms. Kidney believes that the teacher’s traditional role as the judge or scorekeeper of a child often leaves the child with feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy. A clear failure, not of the child, but of the teacher.
Clanmore understands the vital importance of balance in the developing mind of a child. A sanctuary of free time allows a child to immerse him or her self in a rich imaginary world; a world which allows for crucial mind development that is intricately linked with the creative process, problem solving and higher thought. So many of the stresses of school life don’t exist at Clanmore. All this leads to a joyful sort of learning that surpasses all expectations as seen in the self possessed, capable and intelligent young adults that graduate from the school. There is the realization that the feeling of calm which immediately strikes you when you enter the school is created by something that is right and working and in the end, represents learning at its best.
by: Michael Goldstein