Recently, Jarrow’s Senior Elementary Class hosted a Research Seminar to share pieces of their extensive work with the greater community of students, parents and friends. With original art on hand, and handmade binders that held thoughtfully produced reports, each student spoke reflectively about their topic of choice. When asked, “What inspired you to choose this person (or this tribe) for research, the replies reflected impressive knowledge and earnest passion for the chosen topic.
At Jarrow, we see the task of research as a fundamental opportunity for (what Dr. Montessori referred to as) Deep Work. In viewing our eldest students with their work, it was obvious that, not only had seeds of interest taken root, but that students had been given time and space to thoughtfully follow points of interest and perfect them with story and art. A number of students were inspired to read directly from their reports when asked a question by their visitors. “Black Hawk contributed greatly to his culture,” read one student. “.. He was a great warrior who understood what it meant to be a loyal tribe member. He devoted his life to fighting for the rights of his tribe. He tried relentlessly to keep his tribe and culture alive, which is why he fought.”
Not only had our Senior El students taken on the discipline of organizing and producing art and information for a presentation format, it was obvious many of their sensibilities had been touched. Winona LaDuke, who according to one student’s research had once said, “Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist and why proposing to destroy with chemical warfare doesn’t make you a corporation terrorist” which was consolidated later in the report with the comment, “Winona LaDuke is a confident person who has spent her life speaking her thoughts and making things fair.”
In addition to the Great Work that had obviously occurred, there was a high pitch of self-reflection, grace and enthusiasm on Research Day. The task of a Montessori student is to go deeply into work, to discover and refine points of interest – and the great joy that often follows is sharing with others.
Thanks to our Senior Elementary students and to their great Support Team, teachers Danielle, Tania and Matt