My photograph of daisies from car-free Inis Bofin, off Co Galway.
Summer 2019 Update
MY PATH TO EDUCATION PRACTICE
Iseult Catherine O'Brien
Montessori Teacher & Supervisor | Volunteer Tutor with Second Level Students |
A Member of The Tutors' Association
I came late to teaching. After over 25 years as a personal secretary, personal assistant, and an office manager, I changed direction, and studied Montessori Teaching and Supervision.
Having started with 2.5 to 6 year olds, I changed focus, due to a chronic migraine, and now tutor second level students, usually on a one-to-one basis. Dr Montessori's Methods are applicable to all students and teachers based, as they
are, on developing self-reliance, self-confidence, self-directed learning, respect, Grace and Courtesy, and consideration for others.
The following was current when Dr Montessori wrote it in the mid-20th Century, and it shall always be current, because children and young people will always
have the same needs, wherever they are in the World.
"Education demands, then, only this:
the utilization of the inner powers
of the child for his own instruction."
~ Maria Montessori
Working with young people is always totally engaging and energizing. It opens my mind to new concepts, broadens my vocabulary, and my taste in music and film!
I have learnt a crucial lesson in relation to the importance of certain people in a young person's life. If a young person is acting out of character, or is unusually quiet, a friend
moving away, or leaving their school, or the young person himself moving home, could be the cause ~ having an enormously disruptive effect on a young person's life structure.
The need for friendship is not a conversation many young men are comfortable having, and so it is not likely that this reason for a change in behaviour would necessarily be obvious to teachers, or even family.
Clearly, a change in the circumstances of friends, or oneself, are centrally important to a young person,
and how he locates himself socially. I now know to be aware of another possible reason why a student has had a significant
change in demeanour and behaviour.
I enjoy greatly my work as a voluntary tutor with the educational element of An Síol, a Community Initiative, based in Stoneybatter, Dublin 7. I attend our
Monday evening sessions, during term time, with great enthusiasm. I revel in seeing my Student grow in confidence, week by week, starting to introduce her own ideas, interpretations, and suggestions to how we should approach our work.
There is enormous satisfaction in seeing a Student blossom, as she becomes aware of her potential and capabilities. Each new academic year brings new subjects and, of course, a new Student ~ with all her hopes and plans,
and our job together is to do our best to get her where she wants to be.
I have also had the pleasure of working with groups of second level young men, doing intensive study sessions, plus individual sessions with young men working to get back into
education, or making the extra effort to stay in second level. These study sessions are organized by Conor Casby of Dublin1&7SCP, which covers more or less the postal districts Dublin 1 and Dublin 7, and is a School Completion Programme.
The enthusiastic, open-minded, welcoming attitude of the Students is refreshing, and makes these most enjoyable experiences.
I certainly learn more from these charming young men than I teach them!
Working on an intensive basis, one-to-one, with a Student wishing to re-enter education, his popping ideas made every day a brand new experience. Working with him was great fun and exhilarating, waiting for yet another perspective, another reason why, or why not. It was like being plugged into the mains
~ I can still feel the buzz!
Working so intensively, for two hours at a time, I realised clearly some of the various pressures on young men, and how deeply important good friendships are to them.
2017, approximately 9,000 students did not complete second level education.
Every hour I spend with young people
teaches me something new.