Graduation Speech by Emily Lockwood

Emily Lockwood, 2022 Graduate, AMI Montessori 0-3 Diploma

I wanted to start off with some words from Maria Montessori – “The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth”. I think if people didn’t feel that going into this course that we’ve now all finished with that understanding. It’s why we’ve been having discussions about why this is the most important and holistic age group to work with and why Montessori’s thoughts and feelings on this time period, seen through scientific observation, have time and time been backed up by so many areas of scientific research. This is where the foundation of the child occurs. This time when the days feel long but the years are short are the most critical for the child in their whole life – so what an honour and reward for us to choose to be with them and be their guides whether at home or in an environment. What an honour and reward for them to choose us to collaborate with us.

It’s been a huge task for everyone on the course – some who’ve reached the end, some who got here from other countries which is incredible, others who we missed out on because of border closures and others who’ve left us.  We’ve approached it in different ways and I’m so excited to see where everyone goes with this. All the work is important – we’ve got people using this at home to people already working in environments who can contribute on such a deeper level now with this understanding or those who could start environments or projects. Even just sharing knowledge with friends, sharing some Montessori over no Montessori.

I know this has been a weird year for our families too. Thank you to our support systems and especially to our children who it would’ve been the hardest on. Each time we went to class whether online or in person we had that piece of you in our hearts front and centre. We always enjoyed seeing kids run in and try to get one more bedtime kiss during zoom classes when they really wanted to wave at all these strange people on screen. While it was hard especially for this last block on our families I really encourage you to look at how worthy it’s been. I’m sure you all have seen transformations in us like we’ve felt in ourselves. What an investment in us as individuals, as parents either current or future, as members of the community who deeply care about children.

When we think of our time on this course we largely think of Sara, the glue that has kept us together while online and in person. Many of us had done Assistant or Orientation training and the choice to do the Diploma was to come back and hear her speak, to spend time with someone who lives and breathes Montessori and then her next greatest love – Facebook Marketplace. Thank you for the role you play in this social revolution that we believe in and are a part of. Thank you to Emma for this year and particularly for your help at the training centre, good luck on your own training journey. Thank you Alison for your coordination of things. Thank you to our readers for their work and guidance this year and to Jenny and Julia for making us so comfortable during exams the past couple of days.

Maria said “let us treat them with the kindness which we would wish to develop in them” and I think part of that is not just developing an understanding and love for children we live with and work with but for all children. To advocate for children, to share the benefits of independence and respect for children for all. We’re all better off with some Montessori in our lives, not that we have to call it that because it’s not about her or this brand, it’s about the children.

When Sara mentioned graduation and the class doing something she mentioned a previous class had done a musical performance, but we’re not that type of group. We did feel called to do something as a collective though, and what better thing to do than give back? Montessori Children’s Foundation is a foundation all about empowering Indigenous families. Their mission is to provide a framework and environment that fosters independence and a love of learning and exploring for Indigenous kids, to let them have the opportunity to claim their rightful place in society. They currently run projects in Torres Strait and Far North Queensland and Julia mentioned at exams that she’s headed up to do some of that work this weekend. Our class has raised $860 for which I am so proud of. I then was speaking to Indigenous actress Miranda Tapsell, who is a Larrakia and Tiwi woman, about the donation and this link between the holistic nature of Montessori and things at the heart of Indigenous culture. She asked if she could make a donation and then suggested opening it up to our friends and families who have been with us on this journey and who want to help us spread that. Not everyone had an opportunity to talk about it so I encourage you to go to their website and donate directly if you’re able to, but today I had the pleasure of making a $1540 donation to the Montessori Children’s Foundation. We also got support from the Online Montessori Community including from people like Nicole Kavanaugh who if you’re a Montessori parent online you’ve definitely been inspired by to some extent. It’s wonderful to see how the community believes in us as students, but most importantly the recognition of empowering Indigenous students and Indigenous families with this money for their programs. Montessori is meant to be a reflection of our culture, it is meant to be culturally responsive, and these funds will go to that occurring for some Traditional Owners of our land, so, thank you to everyone who donated. Their fundraising goal for this year is $125k so I’m glad for the part we’ve played in that and hope it can continue.

Now the bulk of the course is done, because so many of us lost time for observations in lockdown we do have some more to do. But we can all take a breath for a bit, look after ourselves physically and mentally which can take a hit during intense study, reconnect with our families and friends, take back the preferential relationships that may have changed over the summer while partners were doing primary parenting. The work is in process. Thank you.