The Map, The Brain
A guest post by Laureen Golden, co-creator of The Map
Exploring “The Map”
Have you had a chance to explore "The Map" of the Montessori movement? Approaching this dynamic and interactive tool is a journey of discovery. What is it? How many ways can it be used? What possibilities does it hold? Although the answers to these questions are probably limitless, here are some personal discoveries/reflections...
Inundated with work in our own spheres, it is all too easy to miss the early exponential growth of the Montessori movement that is occurring all around us. The Map, at its most basic level, visually frames the many monumental initiatives, giving us a chance to see ourselves in context of our community, and witness our evolution. Building a Public Repository of Our Collective Knowledge Montessorians committed to children and working tirelessly for change is nothing new, but the unprecedented collaborative commitment of our community is. The "crowdsourcing" technique of The Map empowers us to build a public repository of our collective knowledge, that we can continue to organize and develop.
Engaging Our Social Brain
The Map enables our our entire community to "be on the same page" -- literally! This shared focus activates our social brain to become alert and attentive. Recognizing our interrelationship with others can help us (1) more effectively communicate visions for what is possible, (2) cultivate connections with others with similar passions/interest, (3) share resources/information which will shorten our learning curves, and (4) coordinate efforts that will magnify the voice and presence of Montessori in education dialogues.
Generating Purposeful and Unified Action
If the unprecedented collaborative commitment for cooperation signals a new ability for our community to act as a unified organism, might The Map be a metaphoric brain? Perhaps this is a stretch, but worthy of consideration, so we don't overlook a potential capacity. Similar to a brain, The Map brings information acquired by our various parts, to be stored in a central location. Accessible for all to view, this new knowledge will build on, and be shaped by, what each of us knows. Once integrated with our current needs and past memories, The Map endows us with the ability to plan, coordinate, and execute purposeful and unified action.
￼￼￼￼ Recording the findings/reflections of these efforts back into the map, where they can be further processed, integrated, and acted upon by increasingly more individuals, makes the Montessori- community-as-an-organism capable of more rapid learning and ever greater and more refined movement.
Perhaps the Map as a metaphoric brain is an overly simplified idea, but concepts about brain development may still offer guidance for our collective growth:
If you don't use it, you'll lose it: The potential of The Map will only be realized if we commit to making it purposeful and meaningful. If we do not constantly input, refer to, and act upon information in this repository, The Map will fade into obscurity.
Development depends on activity: Our motive for action is great! The world desperately needs an alternative vision for our children and our future. Dr. Montessori provided such a vision, as well as a roadmap for how to get there! But, since Montessori education currently reaches only about 2% of the population, there is much work to be done. The more we get involved and engage with others, the stronger our network of relationships will grow, and the more effective and refined our efforts will become.
The beginning years are foundational: Recognizing that "as the twig is bent, so grows the tree", Montessorians invest much time preparing the environment for a child's optimal development. Similarly, it is essential that we intentionally establish communication/decision- making/governance structures that foster curiosity, engagement, respect, lifelong "fearless learning" and group flow.
Connections matter: The development of The Map will be greatly influenced by how many people know about it, and link together through it. But, just as the number of neurons are not as important as how they are connected, the way in which we reach out to, and work with, one another, will greatly influence our collective intelligence.**
Orienting, building, engaging, generating -- what other possibilities do you discover when you explore The Map?