· The spirit of the Faith Montessori family sponsored walk
Some years back, I happened to be at the Gutman Library of the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Cambridge, Massachusetts, to join the class of one professor Eileen McGowan. She had graciously agreed to my request to observe a methodology she applied with her doctoral students.
While waiting I rummaged through some used books on a discard table, and chanced upon one with the title, “The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori”. It was an edition of a translation of the author’s work from its Italian origin, published in 1912.
How children grow to help
In his introduction to the book, J. McV. Hunt marked that the cutting edge that results in any human progress resides chiefly in the individual’s “intention or plan”. He asserted that, “If a teacher can discern what a child is trying to do in his informational interaction with his environment, and if that teacher can have on hand materials relevant to that intention, if he can impose a relevant challenge with which the child can cope, supply a relevant model for imitation, or pose a relevant question that the child can answer, that teacher can call forth the kind of accommodative change that constitutes psychological development or growth.” This sort of thing, he noted, was apparently “the genius of Maria Montessori”.
What he said – in brief – was that, If a teacher could plan and guide a child properly, that child can do almost anything. And then as the child evolved, large possibilities could not elude them, even including the empathy and stamina to help with large community projects to help others to succeed. That brief, I believe, supplied the emotive force propelling the Faith Montessori School yearly walks, to raise money for good community causes; and worthy of emulation wherever needs exist.
Joining hands for inclusive quality education
The theme for year 2018, “Ensuring Inclusive Quality Education For All”, evolved out of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4. The intent was to build a six unit school block for a selected school under tree; the 6 km walk itself would start from the SVD Residence Catholic Church (McCarthy Hill) to Royal Palm Avenue at Jayee to N1 High Way Weija Junction to Top Base and end finally at Faith school at Gbawe.
The night before, Mrs Emma Amoo-Gottfried (a proprietor) had stopped at my residence to deliver a ticket. In our conversation, I said, “I will walk with you only down the hill to Jayee and return home …” Before I could finish, she insisted, “Nobody is going to quit half way. We’d start together, and finish together!” I asked, panting, “You mean walk all six kilometers?” She responded, “Why not? If children can do it, so can you! We cleared that same distance last year.” The sponsored walk is Faith Montessori’s flagship charity event, hence the no-nonsense determination and effort that are put into its planning and execution to the finish.
The Ghana Prison’s Brass Band
Early the next morning, we gathered at the SVD Residence Catholic Church from 6 am, and waited as the school buses ran from the school and other locations shuttling children to the start off location. The numbers were large considering that the project involved the whole school and included some gallant parents.
Waiting in the wings was the Ghana Prison’s Brass Band preparing their instruments for the event. When asked if they could walk and play the whole stretch, the leader shrugged off my question, and said, “Ah, but we do it all the time!” While chatting, he infused into the conversation the array of musical instruments readied for the task – the horn section: the trumpet, flugelhorn, French horn, tuba, and the trombone; then the bass and snare drums, and the brass cymbals.
When the first trumpet sounded, with the horn section and the drums jumping in, there was no turning back: we had crossed the proverbial Rubicon in high spirits for a good cause.
The planning and execution
The success of this year’s walk smacked of the same effort last year. The walk commenced at McCarthy Hill and ended at Faith Montessori School (Gbawe Campus). The first stop was at the Circuit Court / Oblogo Health Center at Weija, and the second at the Zion Nursing School at Top Base.
The rest stops were manned by teachers, students and a supporting staff serving in various capacities ranging from supervisors, litter patrol, traffic coordinators and so on. The kitchen staff refreshed the walkers at the breaks, and at the end with coconuts and juices.
Drivers along the stretch moved logistics back and forth. A bus branded “Tired Feet” availed itself for carting any young enthusiasts who could not finish the walk. It was impressive and gratifying that a large number of the kids walked the full distance. No doubt the exhilarating tunes from the Prisons Brass Band served their purpose.
A high premium was placed on security. Police personnel drawn from Gbawe and Mallam Police stations held their roles with commitment. Their efforts were complemented by the Faith in-house security officers. An ambulance team from the Royal Medical Diagnostic Centre drove alongside at a walking pace, on standby to support the school nurse and Red Cross team.
The event succeeded in the minutest detail. Possible lapses were pre-empted and corrective measures planned to avert their occurrence or to deal with them if they happened. All these were done under the auspices of the school’s directorate.
[The author is a teacher of teachers, a senior lecturer, a motivation and leadership coach.]