Chiaravalle, Wednesday Sept. 2 - Book Presentation: The Montessori Alphabet. Words that can change the World
This book presentation is tonight's venue at the Teatro Valle. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend. Elena Balsamo will be presenting her newest book: the Montessori Alphabet, which has just come out and is written in Italian (Alfabeto Montessori. Le parole che possono cambiare il mondo, Leone Verde).
Elena Balsamo is a "holistic" pediatrician, specialist in the care of the person in the first months of life, expert in perinatal issues and three times a mother. Her life is dedicated to supporting the mother-child relationship, especially in the period of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, and to understanding the experiences of the newborn, which she seeks to interpret. For many years she has been working with intercultural mothering and Montessori pedagogy. On all these issues she carries out courses for parents and professionals in the health and educational fields (bio translated from the publisher's website).
"A two-part dialogue, in which the author's poetic style alternates and mixes with Montessori's more technical-pedagogical style. Reflections, practically "daily meditations", to understand the most important, innovative and lesser known aspects of Maria Montessori's thought and vision, aspires to establish, above all else, that spiritual contact with Montessori that Maria used to make with the child and with her audience." (from the program MM150 Maria Montessori, Ritorno a Casa).
Some of her other books (in Italian, I've translated the title here) are:
The Chiaravalle Cigarette Factory Lady Workers: could this be the origin of Montessori's feminism?
I had to see this cigarette factory with my own two eyes. As we know, we learn and absorb real impressions through doing, "Io imparo facendo". Watching a film, reading a book, listening to a lecture, these are all cognitive and virtual in that they enter our consciousness through the mind and not through the body. Montessori emphasized how the child learns through 'doing', but in reality it is the same for every person at every stage of life: we all learn best through 'doing'. Everything we learn through the cognitive channels, we are only taking it in through the mind, and it is at risk of being lost when the cognitive memories are compromised, during the last "developmental" stage of life, and the loss of declarative memory. This is for another blog... but this transgression is simply saying: I wanted to be there, go to the facotry, and take it in through my own senses, log an experience - after all of the talk about it.
The film we had seen the evening prior had shown the history of the factory and it's vital importance to the town since 1759 when it was opened. The director had found historical footage of the women working there and rolling the tobacco leaves. Each employee was gifted 25 packs of cigarettes each month as part of their payment.
The workers were all women, and so the town of Chiaravalle, where Maria absorbed reality and incarnated her culture and personality up through the age of 3, women had work as laborers, they were an economic force in town.
Every morning the town's women walked to work down the street built in 1870 to connect the town to the factory and it was named: "Boulevard of the Lady Cigarette Workers". The women of Chiaravalle were empowered by their economic independence. And Montessori's father, Alessandro, was the government employee who oversaw the factory's finances and state income from it. You can see in the photo below what his car would look like if he were working there today!
And below is a link in Italian to an archive
Watching the film was like sitting at the foot of a mountain watching an avalanche roll down the mountain's side. Montessori's life story is not simple and every aspect was looked at in diverse ways with historical film clips, interviews, observations in a variety of children's houses, and even modern scenes illustrating in contemporary times the various political, education and social issues that she devoted her life to. The trailer can be found at the link below.