Our middle school guide and veteran American Montessori Society presenter, Ms. Rao, shares more about her topic, Equity and Inclusion through Ethnomathematics, which she will present during this year’s Montessori Event presented by the American Montessori Society.
I have presented at the AMS Montessori Event for the past three years. In 2019, I presented the topic “Cosmic Education, Systems Thinking & STEM” in Washington, D.C. In 2021, I presented the topic “Psychogeometry” (Dr. Montessori’s seminal work by the same title) virtually after the 2020 Montessori Event in Dallas was canceled due to the pandemic. In 2022, I am presenting on the topic “Equity and Inclusion through Ethnomathematics” in Nashville, TN.
My favorite part of presenting at The Montessori Event (the largest Montessori conference in the world) is the opportunity to meet and interact with educators and experts from all over the world. It is the world’s best professional development!
I also love that it provides me an opportunity to showcase student work and receive feedback from the best and most supportive mentors and educators.
I was inspired by a TedTalk called The fractals at the heart of African designs by ethnomathematician, Ron Eglash (author of African Fractals). In his talk, he explains how math and culture intersect by examining the fractal patterns underpinning architecture, art and design in many parts of Africa. I shared the TedTalk with the middle school students and it instantly piqued their interest and curiosity. I facilitated students’ exploration of many facets of African culture (art, artifacts and architecture) through the lens of geometry and mathematics to understand how cultures across time have used math to solve problems in everyday life. Our research then extended to math in the Kolam art and Warli paintings from India.
These explorations of mathematics through art and artifacts not only helped students recognize that math is a human activity embedded in all cultures, but they also recognized that they are all mathematicians who use math to solve problems in everyday life. Our work in class also helped dispel the myth that math is a procedural subject, void of meaning and only accessible to a select few. This was a fun experience for all students! They created beautiful art, analyzed geometry and math and gave presentations to the Upper Elementary students while growing in their appreciation of math and the contributions of diverse cultures.
Every year, thanks to Ms. Hanks’ generous sponsorship, several of the faculty have the opportunity to attend The Montessori Event. I am looking forward to spending time with my colleagues and the members of the administration team. The Montessori Event has a packed schedule with great speakers. I hope to learn from experts from all over the world. It’s great to collect ideas and resources that will serve our students well. In between sessions, our school team meets up for lunch to share about the exciting workshops we attended and how we hope to implement what we learned in our classrooms. I enjoy the camaraderie and the intellectually stimulating sessions and conversations very much!
It’s been an immense privilege and honor to be a Montessori educator for more than 15 years and also to be a trainer for adult learners (as part of our teacher training program, North Texas Montessori Institute, NTMI). I believe, as an experienced Montessori educator, I have a responsibility to share ideas that are motivating and exciting for students and have helped them learn. I am passionate about Montessori pedagogy and philosophy and presenting at conferences presents me an opportunity to contribute novel and innovative work that I facilitated to support students’ interests and curiosity. I truly believe that the structure offered by the Montessori classroom supports how brains are wired to learn best and sharing my knowledge of how best to facilitate rich learning is a truly fulfilling experience.
At our Montessori school in Frisco, our highly qualified team guides students with gentle enthusiasm, always allowing them the freedom of exploration. To learn more about a private school education in Frisco, Texas that develops the qualities of successful leaders, contact our admissions team by inquiring online or calling (972) 855-8585.