What inspires you about education?
To me, education is a tool to help children learn, grow, develop, and become whoever they want to become. It’s not us, either as a teacher or as an adult, who teach them. The word education has been misunderstood for too long. There’s also a misunderstanding of the word, “teacher.” conceived of one who shapes a child and is active in that work. It should be the other way around. Namely, that children themselves act as active participants in their own education and the teacher should be made more passive here.
That is why I love Montessori so much. We are not the “teachers.” We are the guides, here merely to put children in touch with their own environment. The children themselves are the ones who teach themselves. We are only the connectors. It’s a natural process of learning that we, as human beings, are born with. We’re born with a desire to learn, to want to be better, and to want to reach our highest potential. No one needs to instruct us how. It’s one of the most important characteristics of human tendencies.
How did you discover Montessori?
I found Montessori by accident. After finishing my masters degree at the University of Warwick, I wanted to stay in England with Bobby, so I began Googling work in education, and I found Montessori. I went to check it out, and I fell in love. I decided immediately that this was it. This is what I wanted to do.
When I went in for an interview at the Montessori Training Organization, the director asked me, “What do you want to do after this?” I told her that I wanted to go back to Thailand to open my own Montessori school. After receiving my AMI diploma, the plan was not exactly the same, but I still ended up owning a Montessori school.
How does Montessori philosophy inspire your daily life?
I believe in the Montessori philosophy, and I carry on my life in that way. I treat the adult the same way as the child, as in I cannot assume that you know anything until I’ve given you the knowledge. But, I also have to build a relationship with you. You are not going to listen to any knowledge I give you if we do not have a relationship with one another, and the first thing you need to have in a relationship is trust. So once we create an ongoing relationship, and once I have given you the knowledge, only then can I hold you accountable.
I look at all human beings as a unique person. We are all so unique! Just like each individual snowflake, we don’t look the same, but when the snowflakes all come together, they can form a great snowstorm. Together, we can create something bigger.
I do not think we need to be the same in order to achieve something together. Just because I might not be able to do something you can do does not mean I am less than, it means that I can bring something different to the table.
I also believe in guiding people and helping people to understand what they are supposed to do. If I work with you in the classroom, and I notice you did something that is not quite right, I will not go to you and say, “Why did you do this?” Instead, I would have a meeting with you to say, for example, “I am realizing that I talk really loudly in the classroom. Next time, if you see me talk really loudly, will you remind me?” In doing this, I am bringing to the forefront of your mind to be aware of my actions, that I cannot talk loudly, which means you will also become more aware of your actions, too, that you cannot talk loudly either. This does not place the blame on anyone. Instead, I make the problem I once saw as my own problem to help others.
I am always trying to come up with something that helps people better understand Montessori.
Do you have a favorite Montessori quote?
Of course, it has to be, “…Education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual. It is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences upon the environment.” Maria Montessori, the Absorbent Mind
What have you learned from your time working at Higher Ground Education thus far?
Working at Higher Ground has helped me to do things I haven’t done before, like training people online. That is something I have never done before! I am outside my comfort zone, but I am learning how to build relationships and build trust in new ways.
I have also become more focused on being objective. I used to get upset easily when something didn’t go my way or get emotional in my work. But working at Higher Ground has helped me to realize that Rome was not built within a day, that you cannot just change things in a day! When working with people, change takes time, and it takes time and patience to help people grow. I focus now on the measurable outcomes. This work has proved to me what I want to learn and the direction I want to follow.
What do you enjoy most about working with your teammates?
My teammates are very true to Montessori. All of us understand Montessori inside and out, and everything we do is because we want to improve Montessori and ensure Montessori is for everyone.
And, each of us is unique! We bring different things to the table. When I realize my strengths and weaknesses, what I decide to do with them is where I have grown. I could either get upset, or I could improve. I have learned not to be discouraged by criticism, and that I want an opportunity to practice and improve. We are all learning together the importance of open communication, and I appreciate that we can be honest with one another.
What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
Film, photography, and cooking.