Teacher/Educationalist Voice 6

Sheryl Morris – Former Montessori Teacher

Sheryl used to teach three to six year olds in a US Montessori school. Now retired, she assists with early education and parent programs at her local library.

She’s particularly interested in progressive “holistic” education because, since becoming a grandmother, she has become increasingly concerned for the future, human priorities and the evolution of humankind. She says that although she knows most about Montessori, she looks to all holistic pedagogies for wisdom. See is an administrator for the Pedagogical Paradigms Facebook page.

In your opinion what are the main challenges of the current state school system?

1) Resistance to change and lack of understanding. Read more here:


2) Lack of sharing and affective communication. Have a look at this quote from Alfie Kohn:

“In what was, sadly, the final issue of a journal called ‘Paths of Learning’, Ron Miller said that nearly everyone is off in their own cozy little worlds…

Homeschoolers hang out with each other. Montessorians read their own publications and go to their own conferences, the Waldorf movement inhabits its own tiny corner of the universe, charter and magnet school advocates think they’ve found the answer to the problems of education, those in democratic schools celebrate the freedom they enjoy in their minuscule enclaves, and progressive activists see all these groups as enemies against their struggle to save public schools.

As a holistic thinker, I am convinced that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that if these various movements and communities would come together, learn from each other, and appreciate each other’s contributions to a movement for educational rights, we would have a political and cultural force that could seriously contest the reign of the educational empire.”

Alfie Kohn

See point #6 below about Dynamic Governance/Sociocracy for consideration of new ways to communicate, so that everyone has a voice.

What are state schools doing well?

Maintaining rigid traditions where maybe only a third of the students thrive.

If you could make changes to state education, what would be your top priorities?        

1) Flexibility between “traditional” school-house programs and homes chooling/unschooling – working toward coordination of all of society/town becoming learning sources for everyone, including businesses, libraries, willing neighbors, other students.

Quote from James Moffet, in “The Universal Schoolhouse: Spiritual Awakening Through Education”:

“Each community should organize a totally individualized, far-flung learning network giving all people of all ages access to any learning resource at any time. Nothing is required, but everything is made available. Users make the decisions but avail themselves of constant counseling by a variety of parties.

The very concept of schools, classes, courses, exams, and curriculum is superseded. Subjects and methods are reorganized around individual learners forging their personal curricula in interaction with others doing the same across a whole spectrum of learning sites, situations, and technologies. This is what I am calling the universal schoolhouse.”

James Moffet

2) Balance between student-centered AND teacher-centered time.

3) Emergent and project-based curriculum.

4) Relationships: adults to children/children to children.

Environments with multi-age students allow for students to be teachers on occasion, enhancing their learning experiences. Peer-to-peer teaching can often bring about better results than the traditional adult-to-child.

A noteworthy article about adult/teacher relationships with student/child follows:


And another:


5) Personal Values.

The Personal Creed Project” is a classroom-based rite of passage that English teacher John Creger has developed over the past ten years with his sophomore classes:

“Values are the real windows to our souls. As we choose them and actually learn to live by them, the windows become clearer, even transparent. With our active participation, discovering values opens us up to a journey into our inner life.

If you would become wise, accumulate values. Your wisdom depends on the values you choose and the courageous loyalty you bring to owning and developing them throughout your life.”

Tom Choquette, Truthseekers

Read more here:


Much earlier in childrens’ lives, learning about feelings and needs serves to ground their later reflections on personal values. When values are found to be shared values, it is easier for people to work/live together.

6) Democratic communication and conflict resolution.

See Sociocracy in schools, School Circles, Dynamic Governance in schools, and the like. And, while we are busy implementing better democracy in schools, shall we think to use these same methods of communication/behavior in the rest of our world? I think so.

7) Social justice/intersections.

The importance of bringing social justice studies into the classroom has long been ignored. I have learned a lot through the group, Montessori for Social Justice.

Other groups include Embracing Equity and the Center for Intersectional Justice.

A great source of social justice reading for children as well as adults is:


8) Hands on/concrete math learning before abstraction.

Montessori math materials leave teachers-in-training saying, “I wish I’d learned math this way!” Many other math educators today are encouraging games, history, and biographies in the learning of math.

A really great article along these lines follows:


9) Much more outdoor play/work in natural settings.

10) Cosmic education (Montessori).

Read more here:


11) Five Great Lessons (Montessori).

Read more here:


12) Philosophy.

Philosophy, the “love of wisdom”, begins with wonder about the world. It is one of the oldest academic disciplines, but traditionally it has not been considered a subject for children. Yet young people ask philosophical questions and are curious about philosophical issues: How do we know things? What is beauty? How are the mind and body connected? Young people do not need to learn philosophy; it is something they do.

Read more here:


13) Weaving of all history, art, stories… through lens of the ‘Partnerships/Domination’ continuum.

“Although “Tomorrow’s Children” offers materials that can be immediately used by educators and students, it offers an approach that fully integrates gender-balance, multiculturalism, and environmental consciousness, as well as nonviolent conflict resolution, ethics, and caring into the entire educational fabric.”

Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade

Read more here:


To date, I have found that Riane Eisler has the widest lens through which to look, when we pull back in order to get a broad look at the many concerns we have and our work for a better, fairer world for everyone.

Do you have anything else to add?

Ask questions! Listen, be open, learn as much as you can while your child(ren)/student(s) learn. When they learn about democratic conflict resolution, learn what you can. When they are reading books from a social justice book list, read one yourself from the same list. When they are in wonder of cosmic education let your own curiosity be piqued. Ask questions!

I can recommend the 35 podcasts available online, entitled “Meetings With Remarkable Educators.” Interviews with Ba and Josette Luvmour.