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No Time Like Now To Start Honoring The Real Female Achievers

millelira.jpg

The Italians did it, with this Maria Montessori 1000 lire note, from back in the day before the euro. Here's a bit on Montessori from Wikipedia:

Maria Montessori (August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952) was an Italian educator, scientist, physician, philosopher, feminist, and humanitarian, and the first early childhood educator to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

She was born in Chiaravalle (Ancona), Italy to Alessandro Montessori and Renilde Stoppani. Maria was the first female to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School. She was a member of the University's Psychiatric Clinic and became intrigued with trying to educate the "mentally retarded" and the "uneducable" in Rome. She opened her first school, in a housing project in Rome, on January 6, 1907.

...What followed worldwide has been called the "discovery of the child" and the realisation that: "...mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation.”

The efficacy of Montessori teaching methods has most recently been demonstrated by the results of a study published in the US journal, Science [29 September 2006] http://www.montessori-science.org which indicates that Montessori children have improved behavioural and academic skills in Montessori children compared with a control group from the mainstream system. The authors concluded that, "when strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools."

The Montessori Method of education that she derived from this experience has subsequently been applied successfully to children and is quite popular in many parts of the world. Despite much criticism of her method in the early 1930s-1940s, her method of education has been applied and has undergone a revival. It can now be found on six continents and throughout the United States.

Hmmm, sounds pretty impressive.

Now, as you may have heard, the U.S. Mint is putting out a series of coins commemorating a group of American women -- first ladies. The AP's Martin Crutsinger writes:

...Starting next year, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and all the rest will begin appearing on a new series of gold coins.

It will be the first time in history that the U.S. Mint has produced a series featuring women.

While a new presidential series will be $1 circulating coins, the wives will be on half-ounce gold coins with each likely to sell for more than $300.

Both coins were authorized by Congress in 2005 with lawmakers modeling the $1 coin series after the Mint's extremely popular 50-state quarters.

The hope is that changing the images on the presidential coins every three months will spur greater interest and help the maligned dollar coin finally achieve acceptance with Americans. The Susan B. Anthony dollar, introduced in 1979, and the Sacagewea, introduced in 2000, have both been flops.

Um, perhaps because coins are heavy and inconvienient compared to folding money; not because people think Sacagawea and Susan B. Anthony really suck?

Now, some first ladies -- Crutsinger points to Dolly Madison, who rescued the portrait of GW from the White House -- did do a thing or two. Eleanor Roosevelt did a thing or two, and then some.

But, please, must we honor ladies who typically kept the country happiest when they sat around smiling and saying nothing controversial? And why honor women, in particular, at all? Personally, I find the idea insulting. Honor people who deserve honoring, and leave the labia out of the equation.

The reality: Throughout history, men have largely been the achievers of the human race, and for various reasons; for example, the fact that women were prone to get knocked up and incapacitated before Carl Djerassi invented The Pill.

And now, after all these centuries, when women finally have a chance to show what they're made of -- do we really need to commemorate other women for marrying well?

Posted by aalkon at December 19, 2006 1:51 PM

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Comments

Thanks, Amy. The piece on Montessori was informative and inspiring. The colors in the photo are great too. I took a developmental psych class at UC Berkeley some years ago, and in the process got really interested in her ideas. I love how her methods rally the senses (particularly of touch) in the service of learning.

Posted by: Lena at December 19, 2006 6:09 AM

Pretty amazing, huh? Especially considering when she did it.

And thanks, re: the colors. Gregg got me an amazing new camera -- http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2006/12/my_new_shoes_1.html -- which is also a gift for all the readers of this blog, who must be dizzy from all the blurry photos I've taken over the years.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 19, 2006 6:55 AM

I've never complained about blur. I have complained about gloomy unreadable images, but I've concluded that it's just an artifact of the difference in gamma between Mac and PC.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at December 19, 2006 9:24 AM

My son and daughter both went to a true Montessori pre-school and from our personal experience, it was absolutely excellent. We've known of much fancier, more expensive and prestigious schools that really struggle to match the child to the learning style, but with the Montessori method, it really is remarkable what they do. Of course, it's easier in pre-school than later, but still, I wholeheartedly endorse it for pre-schoolers.

Parents should be aware though that some places that call themselves 'Montessori' schools are not really applying the methodology. I don't have any advice for how to figure that out except to say you should ask.

Posted by: Jim McCarthy at December 19, 2006 10:43 AM

I guess Montessori wouldn't be teaching little Muslims that Jews are pigs and apes, then. (Though what is it about Muslims that they hate pigs and apes? Pigs reputedly make good friends, and apes are us. Sorry, a bit off topic.)

Posted by: Norman at December 19, 2006 10:49 AM

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