Let me explain this discovery by describing the overall essence of my experience so far. Basically, I have developed a wonderful appreciation for how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing at this stage in my career. By stepping out of my familiar, Montessori culture and witnessing the very beginning of “normalization” with students who don’t understand my language or ways very well, the amazing developmental features of childhood, that Dr. Montessori identified so long ago, are taking hold of my attention in a brand new way. Every day, in my Chinese classroom, I see very clear examples of maximum effort, the eagerness to be involved in the care of the classroom, the spontaneous urge to help, the speed with which language is absorbed, the joy and peacefulness that develops with the correct balance of freedom and responsibility and the birth of concentration and obedience. I am sure it is the language and cultural divide that has enabled me to see these realities with a clearer and deeper appreciation.
Somehow it seems as if I have come full circle. I feel as if I am revisiting the beginning of my Montessori journey, when I was a young inexperienced, assistant teacher and then a professionally trained A.M.I. graduate. Everything in those days was exciting and transformative because I was experiencing the mysteries of early childhood and the power of the Montessori approach for the very first time. Now, in China, that same excitement and joy has taken hold of me all over again. I didn’t think that was possible at this point in my career. Perhaps after 34 happy years of teaching in a familiar setting, I had become a little complacent about all the little miracles that were going on around me every day. I was accustomed to my students thinking independently, directing their learning joyfully and beginning to read and write spontaneously. Now that I have had a taste of Montessori in China, the wisdom of Dr. Montessori’s teachings ring truer in my heart than ever before. If indeed, this is the last group of Montessori students I ever direct, I am certainly leaving at the pinnacle of my 'teaching' journey.