Montessori Education – What Are The Benefits?

Choosing an education system or a method for your child is something only you can do and Montessori education is one of the major options you have. This educational approach was developed by Maria Montessori an Italian educator and physician and it emphasizes more on freedom, independence and respect for the social, physical and psychological development of the child. This education system is becoming very popular across the globe probably because of the many advantages it has over other educational approaches.

1. The education focuses on the developmental stages of the children falling in the age group of 3 and 5 to hone language skills, motor skills and completion of important daily activities such as arts and crafts, cooking and dressing among others. It is therefore one of the best systems you can choose for your preschooler to instill a degree of independence and confidence in them.

2. It encourages cooperative play so they get a chance to explore the different learning stations within the classroom. It therefore puts them in the best position to work together, respect each other and build on the sense of community which is very important even in later life.

3. Preschoolers who get this educational approach have the advantage of enjoying learning that is child centered. It means that they will be handled depending on their specific abilities and needs so they get to learn and explore at a pace that suits them best. Every child is given an equal chance to develop at their own pace; hence no one is left out at the end of the day.

4. This system helps children learn self-discipline in the most natural way possible. They work alongside each other and follow rules refining different skills, including self-control, motivation and concentration. It is also a system of education that teaches order which is very important in bringing up responsible children.

5. Montessori education also inspires creativity in the children because they work under their own terms where creativity is highly encouraged. They tend to focus more on the process than the end result of the activities they get involved in and this broadens the thinking on how to address the concept in the best ways possible.

6. It offers hands-on learning to the children to make learning fun and easily understandable to them. There are so many activities that are engaged in the learning to that practical life, culture, math and language lessons are learned by the kids. They get to master the most important life skills as well, besides having an easier understanding of harder areas such as subtractions and additions.

Preschools and schools offering a Montessori system have become very popular today because parents have seen the great value offered by the approach that they get. It is a system that can actually be very helpful in developing a number of skills in children from an early age preparing them for other levels of education and sharpening their growing minds to make them better students.

Executive Teams Need Building Too!

Team building is a very complex business tool and if employed properly, combines the best of science with the art of persuasion and intuition. Science I define as psychology, finance and marketing. The science part comes with such training as organizational psychology. Adapted from author Robert Burns, it might generally be accept that the aphorism in team building could be: The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Of course there are other expressions that substantiate the fact that these type events can have unexpected consequences. Remember, you can lead a horse to water and getting the horse to drink adds a whole different dimension. Open for discussion here is a focus on executive level efforts to build team work.

In research conducted by the University of Central Florida, they found that “team building does indeed make measurable improvements on team performance,” noted Alex Palmer-Successful Meetings. “Team building should be viewed as a means to an end, not the end,” says Bryan Mattimore of Growth Engine. Talking about results, Mattimore noted, a team he worked with put a dollar amount on what they thought would be the results from a team enhancement effort. At the end of one year they had achieved 60% of the target. Yeah, team building does work, but there are caveats.

Mr. Palmer, in his “Successful Meeting” article summarized the thoughts of several people in the team building consulting industry; yes it is an industry and yes, the industry is alive and well in corporate America. And, it is certainly changing due to the make-up of executive workforces, cultural integrations, economics, and education. Nonetheless, effective efforts at team building are still contingent on good statement of objectives (as opposed to strategies), knowing your audience/market, and employing the right tools/activities to achieve stated objectives through good strategies and should be creative.

A few years ago I wrote an article entitled “Building a Team Building Plan-A Business Plan Approach”. The premise is that specificity in team improvement plans is important when it comes time to roll-out the event. Depending on the scope of the future event, maybe a small meeting would work well when planning for an executive team building meeting?

Let’s consider all the changes taking place in organizations and there are some subliminal benefits in calling “team building” by another moniker that positions such events in a new light. I am suggesting that the very words-team building-has taken on connotations that are arcane or in the least, outdated. For example, no one today refers to the internet at the “information superhighway” as was popular in the 90’s. These events or functions of the past and somewhat still in place today, are about competitions, trust building (the old Trust Fall), and forced kum ba yah experiences. Alex Palmer reports that 31 percent of participants in team building dislike such activities. A more malleable term in today’s business environment (especially in the technology sector) might be Focus Reset Meeting, Team Review Meeting, Team Retreat, or something like: Let’s Just Do It (sorry Nike). Ultimately, given a new name to a team building will not mitigate poor planning, poor communications and poor execution.

By the time a person gets to a senior management level, they know what their calling is: finance, marketing, sales, operations, manufacturing, etc. They also recognize there are certain organizations with a culture/personality that fits the executives’ personal style: hard charging, analytical, measured, go along to get along, be reserved in broadly attended meetings, don’t comment about other executive’s areas, etc. Point being, there are a lot of cultural issues that dictate the operating modus operandi of an organization; this may be with a relative new organization or one well established. The landscape is replete with executives trying to change organizational culture. Remember Mr. Scully at Apple who wanted to change the culture established by Steve Jobs. Bottom-line, understand the culture of a company and of the myriad teams and do not use a team building event to change culture; make the culture work for the immediate future. Best thing to do here is innovate; don’t rely on a set menu of old team building activities and execution tricks.

Organizational issues take years to change, depending on how entrenched the issues. But they may be subtlety addressed even with team building.

Ms. Alison Green, an author on management issues, focuses a lot about knowing “The Audience”. By knowing an audience she is talking about parameter’s within which to enhance team building experience. Activities are just one tool in the bag of tricks to utilize, but the trick is to pull out the right tools-“Many people hate them (athletic activities),” she says. “They hate them because the company chooses activities that violate people’s dignity or privacy, or the activity is simply not fun to one and all.”

Further, today’s executives (remember, the focus is on executive team enhancement) are not motivated or directed in the same way as an entry-level employee group/teams, obviously. So, do not try to play manipulative games or try manipulation techniques with executive team audiences. It seems to achieve better results when being straight forward and simply explain to the audience the end game.

With any audience, follow-up with the group relative to progress, goal achievement or need for course corrections is critical; it reinforces the learning experience and sense of accomplishment. Even a simple act of including executives significant others can impact an overall effort.

The following are some comments to consider when planning executive Focus Meetings. (Executive levels I would define at Director Level and above.)

The person in charge of planning the executive team event should define the objective of the gathering and why it is import.
Ask for every member of the team to present data or some metrics to the team.
Include significant others where possible and appropriate.
Talk about competitive pressures and opportunities. There are always external factors requiring attention, even when looking within the organization.
Give all members the opportunity to impress others on the team.
When explaining the objective’s, give details to substantiate the reason for the team building event.
In a wrap up to an event, the leader must be prepared to present a summary of the event to include goals and criteria that defines reaching goals.
Show schedule of follow-up of the team meeting to review the goals and results, and any needed corrections.
Activities should not be competition based but rather oriented toward relationship building.

Some axioms for a little levity:

Not everyone will like you but they should respect you.
Everyone is different.
Rules are subject to change.
Leaders are always on stage and being evaluated. Therefore, stay away from politics, religion and too much drink.
Know the art of the direct and indirect approach to interpersonal contacts.
Admitting error only works occasionally.
Talent wins games; but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.- Michael Jordan
Always be prepared.
Change is constant.

Every organization will always be faced with challenges that are best addressed by teams; no man is an island is the operative concept o that may be applied to team building; no team member is an island.

Organizational research is a fascinating field that study how best to make organizations and their teams work better together. Team building attempts to add structure to a response to change (internal and external) and the constant need for organizational improvement. Need, timing, content, resources and place will dictate how such events are carried out and good planning will minimize risk of anything less than total success.

The Psychology of Education

On the need for an individualistic educational psychology emphasizing on the central role of the learner

Education and psychology are related in more than just one way and the psychology of education could be related to educational principles in psychology or how education as a discipline is taught within psychology as a subject and how these two disciplines merge. This is primarily the focus of educational psychology which studies how human learning occurs, what ways of teaching are most effective, what different methods should be used to teach gifted or disabled children and how principles of psychology could help in the study of schools as social systems.

Psychological education would be completely focused on learning methods as structured or imparted according to psychological and individual needs of the students. Education would differ according to culture, values, attitudes, social systems, mindset and all these factors are important in the study of education in psychology.

Educational psychology is the application of psychological objectives within educational systems and psychological education as I distinguish here is application of educational objectives in psychological processes. The first focus of using psychology in education is more general and the second approach of using education in psychology is more individualistic. However as far as present study of educational approach to psychology is concerned, there is no difference between individualistic educational psychology and general educational psychology and all interrelationships between psychology and education are considered within the broad discipline of educational psychology.

However a distinction between the more general educational psychology and more specific psychological or individualistic education could help in understanding the nuances of individualistic study and give a subjective dimension to the study of psychology in education. This could also help in making learning systems more student based and according to the needs of culture, society, individual or personal factors. This sort of study with a focus on personal/psychological aspects of learning is not just about social objectives and objectives within educational systems but also about personal goals and objectives and the psychological processes involved in learning. There has to be a clearer demarcation between education in psychology as a general study and individualistic education in psychology as a more specific and subjective discipline.

As of now educational psychology encompasses a wide range of issues and topics including the use of technology and its relation to psychology, learning techniques and instructional design. It also considers the social, cognitive, behavioural dimensions of learning but it would be necessary to make education more personal and individualistic through a special branch with a psychological focus on education so that individual needs are considered. There could be two ways in which this branch of knowledge could evolve – either by strengthening psychological education or individualistic approach to the psychology of education or by having two distinct branches of general educational psychology and individualistic educational psychology.

As in client centered approach to psychology, a psychology of education should also include further research that would highlight the need for individualistic dimensions in learning. Learning psychology is the use of psychological theories for example that of Jean Piaget and Kohler in the study of learning techniques, especially among children. I have already discussed Piaget but briefly Piaget’s theory higlights different stages of learning in children and Kohler suggested that learning occurs by sudden comprehension or understanding, however I will not go further into learning theories here. Whereas the focus of educational psychology is on learning techniques per se and the role of the learner is considered only secondary, a branch of individualistic psychology in education could help in emphasizing the role of the learner considering not just their disabilities or giftedness but also their personality patterns. This focus on personality patterns brings out the central role of understanding psychology in educational systems.

Educational psychology studies both the personal approaches to education as in giftedness, disability, learning theories applied to children and adults, and the more general objective approaches to learning as the role of schools as social or cultural systems.

The psychology of education could include the following branches:

General Educational Psychology

1. Learning Systems – As studied from individualistic learning perspectives and generalized learning perspectives, a discussion of the different theories, practices and systems or techniques of learning is an integral part of educational psychology and especially central to general educational psychology.

2. Social Systems – The use of education in social, cultural and economic systems could be considered within the psychological context and this relates to the role of education in society.

Individualistic Educational Psychology

1. Learning Systems – Learning techniques and systems or methods will have to be in accordance with the needs of the children or adult participants and according to skills of the teachers. Needs vary according to personal traits and abilities and individual needs will have to be considered during the learning process.

2. Social Systems – Individual learning psychology will have to be studied according to specific social and cultural backgrounds of the learners and thus a more subjective study of learning approaches and centralized role of the individual in the learning process considering their social, cultural or intellectual background will have to be considered.

A Comprehensive Discussion on Psychosis

Psychosis or Phychotic disorders correspond to a set of disorders, which include schizophrenia and other rare mental disorders. The actual number of people who suffer from psychosis varies, depending upon ethnic influences, gender of sufferer, age as well as the specific nature of disorder. Irrespective of the specific type, a person suffering from such disorders always experiences detachment from the real world, hallucinations as well as absence of correlation between thoughts and events. Most effective ways of treating psychosis include comprehensive medication, psychotherapy, mental health counselling and a host of community support services.

Causes & Risk factors

Certain types of disorders in psychosis do arise from drug abuse or associated medical conditions, but many others arise from unknown causes. Scientists suspect an interplay of environmental, genetic, psychological and biological factors to trigger these disorders. Although causes are not yet known, several risk factors of disorders like schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder have been investigated.

Major risk factors include exposure to toxins like marijuana, barbiturates and ketamine, metabolic disturbances, allergies, infectious agents as well as genetic predisposition. Usually people from a family history of depression, schizophrenia, mood swings and drinking or smoking have higher chances of developing psychosis with time, than people who come from healthy family backgrounds. Psychotic risk factors also include traumatic life events, abandonment, or a bad childhood.

Symptoms & Signs

Psychosis is essentially a mental problem that manifests itself as symptoms involving hallucinations, delusion and anxiety or sense of palpitations. During psychosis, an individual’s perception of his own persona and the world around changes completely. While behavioral changes include social withdrawal, anxiety, disorganized speech and catatonic sensations, that is feeling of being unresponsive or excessively rigid, intellectual changes involve deranged thoughts, delusions, overwhelming sense of being controlled and hallucinations, particularly hearing arbitrary voices.

Treatment of psychotic instability

The cornerstone of psychosis management is proper medication. Antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs include Effexor, Pristiq, Welbutrin, Thorazine, Haldol, Navane and Prolixin. Due to risks of illness relapse, these medications are followed in the form of a treatment plan. Since, many psychotic people do not believe that they are ill and may interfere with the process of healing, mental health awareness or psychotherapy may be performed on them.

Is it possible to prevent psychosis?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT forms an effective therapy for individuals who are at risk of psychosis, but do not exhibit symptoms to validate the presence of the disorder fully. Indeed, this therapy has proved to be more effective than prescribed medications for preventing occurrence of psychotic symptoms. Individuals who are expressing a noticeable change in behaviour and speech may be developing psychotic symptoms and providing support to such a person in the form of counselling, education, understanding and acceptance can prove to be extremely effective in negating full-blown occurrence of psychosis. Women who developed conditions of postpartum psychosis during previous delivery should opt for pre-term delivery in subsequent pregnancy, to prevent recurrence of the episode.

Conflicting Theories – Psychology of Learning

The psychology of learning is perhaps one of the most heated topics in modern psychology, and there are many conflicting theories and points of view in this arena. The largest area of disagreement is the infant phase, which runs from childbirth to when the child first begins to speak. During all phases of the child’s life, play and learning are of paramount importance.

During the first educational phase described my most theorists of the psychology of learning (0-2 years) children learn by imitating other people (especially the mother), testing out their environment, ritualizing play and eventually simple make-believe. In the psychology of learning, each of these comes at various stages, and all must be learnt in order for a child to be able to interact with their environment productively.

The next phase described by the psychology of learning is the toddler and early childhood phases (2-5 years) in which the primary means of learning is through the use of symbols. It is in this phase that a child begins to learn the arbitrary connections between word-sounds, pictures and concepts.

Since these connections cannot be learnt through trial and error, it is important that the child have as much support as possible during this period.

The psychology of learning and the philosophy of language both place enormous importance on this part of a child’s development. Another important discovery in the psychology of learning is that children in this phase use ‘compensatory play’, which is the first evidence of children trying to come to terms with their emotions.

According the psychology of learning, children transfer their emotions or an event that happened onto another object. For example, a child that has recently been scolded might be seen scolding her doll as a way of understanding how the scolding made her feel. When the child reaches ‘childhood’ status (7 years and up) their learning capacity is greatly increased.

The psychology of learning dictates that children should be given as much structure during this period as possible, to teach the child how to interact socially. Games like hide-and-seek and board games are heavily endorsed by those who practice psychology of learning. Institutionalized games, and organized sports play an important role in this stage of a child’s development.