Baan Dek

Spotlight Debbie Adams


Debbie Adams is a Montessori parent, grandparent, and advocate. She’s working to expand the reach of Montessori in Canadian public schools, and her enthusiasm for Montessori is infectious. Enjoy!

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?

I am the mother of two adults who attended Montessori schools (preschool and elementary) and the grandmother of a one year old.

I began teaching as a Grade 2 teacher in a public school in the US. When I moved to Canada I was hired by a public school district to be a Learning Assistance Teacher for students in Grades 1-7. I worked in this capacity for 12 years. During this time I had children of my own and enrolled in a Montessori elementary teacher training program.

montessori spotlight debbie adams

I am currently the director of a Montessori elementary teacher training credential program.

My interest in Montessori began when I enrolled my daughter in a preschool in 1983. Parents discussed the interest in an elementary Montessori program repeatedly during drop offs and pick-ups. This led to a successful proposal to the Vancouver School Board Trustees to start a Montessori public school program.

Over the course of the past 30 years the major challenge that has been faced is ensuring that there are enough fully credentialed Montessori elementary teachers to meet the needs of BC’s public and private Montessori schools. Recent arrangements with the University of British Columbia have moved us closer to addressing this challenge.

My dreams include the expansion of Montessori programs through Grade 12 in BC’s public schools, the establishment of a center that includes prepared environments for toddlers – 6 year olds with adequate space for university students and researchers to observe Montessori in action. My dreams also include the establishment of a network of teachers in public and private schools interested in working collaboratively to document the success of Montessori at the elementary level.

montessori spotlight debbie adams

Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What’s your favourite color?

My favourite colour is blue. It reminds me of clean air and water, essential for peace and environmental sustainability.

Q: Do you have a favourite book? How about a film?

One of my favourite books is Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel”– it explores his theory of geographical luck. PBS created a three-part television series, which happens to be one of my favourite documentaries. Although his theories are controversial they do offer some thoughts to ponder about why some countries are poorer than others.

Q: When you close your eyes late at night, and imagine waking up and starting a new adventure: what is that adventure?

The adventure that I look forward to waking up to is working in collaboration with educators interested in learning more about the latest neuroscience discoveries related to the development of children between the ages of 0-3 years old and exploring how these discoveries support and enhance Montessori’s theories about the “absorbent mind”.

montessori spotlight debbie adams

Q: What first appealed to you about Montessori?

Its holistic, child centered approach initially appealed to me.

Q: What advice do you have for new Montessori adults?

Embrace life; train your mind to become more attuned to the emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of children so that you can better prepare environments that will meet their needs.

Q: Did you have a “Montessori Moment?”

I have had several Montessori moments – observing an 18-month-old child in a Montessori infant toddler program in Taipei, attending a Montessori seminar in Amsterdam, walking the streets with Fred Kelpin, one of Mario Montessori’s collaborators, and observing my own children when they attended Montessori schools. I think the most powerful ones for me will come when my granddaughter begins the infant toddler program at North Star Montessori.

“I envision a paradigm shift in education that makes Dr. Montessori’s vision a reality for more children.”

Q: What’s your favourite Montessori quote?

I have two favourites

“Within the child lies the fate of the future.”

“Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future.”

Q: What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home?

Use the resources that are available through Baan Dek and Montessorium’s Primary app. Set aside time everyday to relax and enjoy being with your child.

montessori spotlight debbie adams

Q: What do you think is the best introduction to Montessori?

Observing in Montessori prepared environments that are fully implementing the philosophy and reading Primary’s Parenting Notes.

Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?

The hope for a better world that the Montessori approach inspires.

Q: In what ways do you envision the future of education?

I envision a paradigm shift in education that makes Dr. Montessori’s vision a reality for more children.
“My vision of the future is no longer people taking exams and proceeding then on that certification . . . but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher [one], by means of their own activity through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual.” – Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence

“Set time aside everyday to relax and enjoy being with your child.”

Q: Where do you see Montessori in the next 100 years?

The following E.M. Standing, one of Montessori’s early supporters, says it best.
“The Montessori method is not a closed system, discovered once and for all, henceforth to be applied unchangingly. It is continually growing like a living thing, growing in depth, richness and variety. Those who studied it forty, twenty, or even ten years ago would be surprised to find how much more there is now than there was then. This applies not only with respect to the wider application of its principles, but also with regard to the depth of these principles themselves. The more one studies them, the more one finds in them to study. The reason for this is twofold. In the first place, the principles, based on the profound and secret forces of life are as limitless as life itself; and secondly, on account of the extraordinary genius of the founder of the system.” – E.M. Standing (1962) The Montessori Method: A Revolution in Education

Written by:

Charlotte Wood

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