Magazine article Montessori Life

Education and Baseball

Magazine article Montessori Life

Education and Baseball

Article excerpt

On June 2, 2010, a Major League Baseball umpire, Jim Joyce, denied pitcher Armando Galarraga his bid for a perfect game. In baseball terms (if you are not a follower of what used to be America's national pastime), a perfect game for a pitcher is one in which he allows no hits and no runs. In other words, the pitcher has pitched a no-hitter. In this particular game the umpire, who later acknowledged that he made a bad call, called the runner safe on an infield ground ball.

Bruce Weber, writing in the New York Times, referred to the game as the "tainted perfect game " but suggested that botched calls have not "eroded the fan base or undermined the integrity of the competition" (2010, p. 3).

So what has all this to do with Montessori education? Think of a perfect game: the zenith of human achievement, rising to a level few others can claim. It happens, but it is very rare. In the history of organized baseball, Galarraga's perfect game would have been only the 21st. Consider the perfect presentation of a lesson or the perfect classroom or the perfect school. At some point in many teachers' careers, they may have given the perfect lesson, or so they thought. It would have been free-flowing, stylistically compelling, perfectly executed: no part left out, precise language used, and with just the right number of words. It would have commanded the full attention of both teacher and child for a few fleeting moments. And then . . . maybe the child followed the teacher's lead, or maybe the child smiled and walked away to choose something else. Or maybe the teacher, basking in his or her glory, forgot that the lesson was merely prologue and so did not observe the child after this uplifting experience.

As for the perfect classroom, well, perfection is in the mind of the guide. It is only perfect for some educators when the room is empty, silent as a tomb, no children, no movement but everything in its place, clean, orderly, a marvel of aesthetics and organization. But this is a static, imperfect environment. There is no perfect classroom that can be replicated exactly because children are not uniform in their heredity and development. The physical environment must be crafted to meet the needs of individuals as well as groups of children. Movement and change are essential elements: children must move in order to learn and, change, however slight, emanates naturally from movement. The perfect classroom is dynamic, but we cannot describe it accurately without knowing who will live and work within its confines. …

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