"A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people." Mahatma Gandhi
The same is true of a school...
We have been conscious and deliberate in building a culture of love, peace, and acceptance. We share compassion and empathy with the world by starting with ourselves.
Peace education is an important part of the Montessori Method. Dr. Maria Montessori saw hope for “a higher form of civilization” through education, including lessons on "grace and courtesy".
Each day our students engage in some sort of meditation and peace activity. This might be yoga, silent seated meditation, walking meditation in the woods, mindful movement, and/or peace circle time.
"Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment." Maria Montessori
The Prepared Environment
The "prepared environment" is Maria Montessori's concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child.
In the prepared environment, there is a variety of activity as well as a great deal of movement. In a preschool classroom, for example, a three-year-old may be washing clothes by hand while a four-year-old nearby is composing words and phrases with letters known as the movable alphabet, and a five-year-old is performing multiplication using a specially designed set of beads. In an elementary classroom, a small group of six- to nine-year-old children may be using a timeline to learn about extinct animals while another child chooses to work alone, analyzing a poem using special grammar symbols. Sometimes an entire class may be involved in a group activity, such as storytelling, singing, or movement.
In the calm, ordered space of the Montessori prepared environment, children work on activities of their own choice at their own pace. They experience a blend of freedom and self-discipline in a place especially designed to meet their developmental needs. -NAMTA
At DGS, we believe the environment where students learn is critical to the process and strive to embody the concept of the Prepared Environment. For that reason, we take great care in creating an inside environment that is beautiful, comfortable, and flexible.
We also believe that connecting to, and learning through, nature is an important part of every day. We are fortunate to have three acres in downtown Davidson, which allows us to commune with the trees and woodland fairies, as well as engage in environmental and sustainability studies.
Being part of downtown also allows us to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities in Davidson. Students also enjoy occasional outings for lunch, book readings at Main Street Books, visits to the library, and writers workshop circles behind Summit Coffee.
"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome." Arthur Ashe
Our journey, or how we teach, learn, interact, and live at Davidson Green School, is what sets us apart from all other schools in our area. We are small by design, and cherish the advantages it provides us. Our small classes and small overall school size enables us to do the in-depth authentic learning, engaging hands-on projects, numerous field trips, exciting overnight travel, and meaningful community service. It allows us to truly follow the child and remove the ceiling effect to let our students soar. We are also small so we can preserve our community and our relationships with each other.
We follow a Montessori structure of a three year cycle for most of our classes. With only about 5 students per grade, and 3 grades in a class, most of our classes are around 15 students. Multi-age classrooms provide numerous advantages. Teaching and learning aren't about a specific age, it is about a pace and a stage of development. There are overlaps and discrepancies across a variety of learning areas over a range of ages. Multi-age classrooms provide authentic motivation, inspiration, and leadership opportunities. It also enables the teacher to know the students on a much deeper level.
We do not give tests or quizzes until middle school. Our teachers know each student so well; they know what the student understands and what the student struggles with. The teacher knows exactly what each student should work on to progress. We are based on a mastery structure where students work hard and do their best to learn each skill before moving on. In middle school, we start giving tests and quizzes to prepare the students for high school.
We also don't give grades until middle school. Research shows that for our highest achieving students, grades reduce motivation, reduce students' desire to take learning risks, and promote mediocracy. For our struggling students, grades promote frustration, poor self-worth, and giving-up. Grades also do not help teachers know what to teach, to teach better, or to know what each child needs to excel. However, we know that once our students leave DGS, they will encounter grades. Therefore, in middle school, we discuss what grades are and why people use them. Our goal is for our students to have a healthy relationship with grades so when they leave DGS, they are comfortable receiving grades from where ever they go next.