Cultivating Tommorow’s Researchers
Hey, have you heard the one about the Millennial who…. Fill in the blank.
Funny but not funny.
Millennials take a lot of heat these days for the shortcomings that seem to have affected a whole generation of people (with notable exceptions). They’re thought to be dependent on parents, unmotivated to follow through, self-involved, entitled, expecting kudos for simply showing up. Everyone gets a trophy, right? Not in the real world, kid.
So what about the next set of people who will grow up and be adults making decisions about our world? The workforce, the next group of parents, role models, world leaders.
Picture this; a group of young people who are able to work independently, and also in a group. Who bring focus and innovation to the projects they approach. Who understand the global, local, and personal implications of their actions. Able to start, and finish a task regardless of whether or not they win a prize. Or a sticker, or a grade.
Take, for example, the Charles Towne Montessori read-a-thon project. An annual event that raises thousands of dollars for one lucky organization.
Let’s see how it goes:
Step one, the date of the read-a-thon is announced and the students are given the option to find, research, and promote a charitable organization of their choice.
Leaders emerge with ideas, and gather a group of like-minded participants. Ideas range from local, personally approachable charities, to worldwide organizations that operate on a global format. There are no parameters for the students except that it must be a non-profit organization. That’s the easy part.
Next is the research phase.
Sisters, Rebecca and Ashley are interested in promoting “I Heart Hungry Kids”. They make personal calls to the founders of the group (a former CTM family) to ask questions. Third grader Madi puts on her brave voice and grips her script to speak to the people at the ASPCA to get information.
Claire and Anna get some help from the office to send international communications to Africa to inquire about the anti-poaching organization. Jonas and Preston do online research about the turtle hospital. Students first through 6th grade take all of the initiative for this research and get minimal guidance from the adults. Some students actually visit the site of their chosen charity, if it’s close by.
Powerpoint presentations, posters, essays and pictures make up the final presentations. Envision “Mad Men”, but different. Pitches are made, questions are answered.
And then they vote. John Ancrum SPCA is the winner this year.
Step two means getting sponsors. Students ask family, friends and neighbors to sponsor them to read as much as they can in one day. By the page, by the book, or flat rate, people offer to support these eager children in their altruistic endeavor.
The day of the read – a –thon, the students show up in pajamas and sweats, sleeping bags and pillows in tow. The room has been cleared, and they set up camp where they choose and get down to business. Snacks are provided. No napping allowed. Julia, a beginning reader, reads 15 beginner books. MK in 6th grade reads 422 pages from several of her favorite authors.
Finally, the students get to make their donation. Beaming with pride,
31 children, ages ranging from 6 to 12 years old, present the Charleston Animal Society with a check for $6980
this year. As special guests at the facility, they get to visit the dogs, cats and bunnies that they will be helping.
From start to finish
This project exemplifies that which Charles Towne Montessori teaches students from very early childhood, all the way through the elementary level. Start, middle, end. The prize is the achievement of a job done to completion. These are the leaders of our future. As Dr. Montessori herself said,
“A child is a hope and promise for mankind”.
Here at Charles Towne Montessori , we see that promise every day.
– Susan Burkhardt, School Administrator
Photography courtesy of:
Keith Bradshaw of On It Video.