Montessori Europe Congress Gdansk 2023
Promoting Solidarity and Social Justice in Montessori Education
The Waterpark team had the huge privilege of attending the Montessori Europe congress in Gdansk, Poland this year. We arrived in Gdansk on Thursday afternoon and booked into our apartment which overlooked the stunning Baltic Sea. We were staying on the 14th floor so the views from our apartment were stunning. Thursday afternoon we had free, so we took a walk on the beach and swam in the sea. Our colleague Aleksandra is from Poland, so she helped us navigate taxis, lunch orders and much more. Many Polish people have very good English, so we were always able to communicate even when Aleksandra was not with us. I tried to learn a few words of Polish while we were here but unfortunately five words was my end result.
The Waterpark team enjoying much needed down time in Gdansk
The conference started on Friday morning, bright and early. We immediately began to meet familiar faces from previous conferences or from other Montessori ventures. There was a real air of excitement and a sense of anticipation. We set up our stand and this year we added a catalogue of all our online shop products, highlighting our new products – files for Montessorians to print materials on their electronic cutting machines.
Fergus setting up our stand
The congress had a special emphasis on research this year with Friday dedicated to this. And if you did not get a place at the research lectures you were lucky to have open space workshops to attend on a variety of interesting topics in the afternoon.
The afternoon session concluded with the AGM where all official business was conducted. We heard that the next Montessori Europe conference will be in two years – venue still to be decided. The conference organisers want to take time to reevaluate what it is that Montessori Europe can offer its members. We are excited to take the break and to see where our next Montessori Europe adventure will take us.
Friday ended with a fascinating talk from keynote speaker Solange Denervaud from the University of Geneva. We sat enthralled in our seats where we had the satisfaction of seeing how science of the brain backs up the Montessori pedagogy.
Saturday saw many more attendees and the energy was high. The opening speeches were met with enthusiasm followed by a full morning of keynote speeches. Tomaz Szkudlarek from the University of Gdansk gave a moving lecture on the history of solidarity in Poland. For the first time I really understood the meaning of solidarity.
Sarah preparing our presentation table
Saturday was an afternoon with many diverse workshops to choose from. Waterpark had the pleasure of facilitating one of these workshops on one of our favourite topics – Montech (Blended Montessori Creative Technologies). There was much fun and learning had at our workshop, with participants gaining confidence in making Montessori activities that blended Montessori pedagogy with technology [See photos below]. Many teachers were very interested in bringing more technology activities to their classroom so we encouraged them to take the short online training that Montech created for this very purpose (I will share the link for this below).
My Montech creation (when you touch the silver paper the girl says different phrases)
I also attended a workshop run by adolescents on Children’s Rights. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and it highlighted for me the importance of preparing our young people to be the leaders that our world needs.
Saturday ended with a drinks reception where we enthusiastically discussed the days events. On Saturday evening we headed into the old town of Gdansk with our Montech colleagues from the University of Girona. It was a magical experience with the beautiful old buildings and buskers keeping us entertained. And we also got to savour the local brew 😊
Savouring the local brew in Gdansk
Sunday’s conference proceedings were dedicated to an adolescent forum along with a lively panel discussion titled Bewildering Montessori: In the service of children? This discussion highlighted the importance of Montessorians from all organisations working together to create and sustain quality Montessori that can adapt to the changing world.
And then it was time to head to the airport to take a flight to Oslo to meet other members of our team and our students for our next exam workshop. I am very appreciative of what an exciting and interesting job I have!
Montech 15 hour online teacher training course
Montech Teacher Guide