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Children can learn from experience, says expert

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DISCUSSION: The CEO of Azim Premji Foundation, Dileep Ranjekar (second from left), at the inauguration of the Montessori Congress in Bangalore on Friday. Photo: K. Gopinathan
DISCUSSION: The CEO of Azim Premji Foundation, Dileep Ranjekar (second from left), at the inauguration of the Montessori Congress in Bangalore on Friday. Photo: K. Gopinathan

Staff Reporter

Montessori Congress-2007 discusses `today's child'

Bangalore: "The fact that the Montessori movement is 100 years old is a testimony of the work and message that Maria Montessori wanted to spread through the method," said Dileep Ranjekar, chief executive officer of Azim Premji Foundation.

He was speaking at the inaugural function of the Montessori Congress 2007 here on Friday.

The three-day event has been organised by the Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu chapters of the Indian Montessori Centre (IMC). The theme of the congress is "today's child".

Mr. Ranjekar said the child had not changed. "What has changed is the environment in which children of today are growing up. The family system has changed; families are getting smaller. The joint family system is on the decline," he said.

The myth that child was an "empty vessel" needed to be exploded. The children of today were capable of learning from experience, each could learn differently from the same experience, he added.

G. Viswanathan, Chancellor, Vellore Institute of Technology, released a CD containing songs for children.

He said parents needed to devote more time for their children. The elementary education system should concentrate on quality and quantity. "There is a lot of debate on the quality of higher education. However, no one actually talks about the quality in pre-school and primary education," he said. He said that although much had been said about commercialisation of education, no one talked about the high level of corruption in the field.

Governor's message

Governor T.N. Chaturvedi was supposed to inaugurate the congress. However, since he was unable to make it to the function, the organisers read out his speech.

In the speech, the Governor said that 100 years of Montessori's presence in India was a milestone, which was reflective of people's acceptance of the method.

Montessori method was a creative integration of knowledge and culture. The contributions made by Maria Montessori were unique, as she was able to recognise the talent in children. She made learning fun for them by not binding them in a classroom. She believed that the teacher should follow the child and not vice versa, he said in his speech.

B.V.A. Rao, chairman, IMC, welcomed the gathering. He said the IMC aimed at propagating Montessori philosophy and method through its training programmes, workshops, seminars and conferences. It had been working towards presenting her ideas to a wide group of people to help see the dynamism of Montessori education and its place in society.

He said the congress hoped to spread the message of peace through education.

Meenakshi Sivaramakrishnan, convenor, IMC; Shobhana Vaidyanathan, vice-chairman, IMC-India; Fr. K.V. Paulose, vice-chairman, IMC- Kerala chapter; and Sunanda Naganand, vice-chairman, IMC-Karnataka chapter, were present.

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