What follows is a testimony from a Montessori educator in Kassel, Germany that describes some aspects of literacy development according to Gestalt-Dialektik (hereunder described as the Vieyra Reading and Writing Method) and also gives some transcendental answers to its pedagogical philosophy, especially in regards to a nurturing, loving and caring environment vis-à-vis an "individualized curriculum" that is so extremely needed by children in any social and pedagogical setting. This testimony is a translation in English, but if anyone wants to read the original document in German, please write to: Gestaltdialektik@hotmail.com
Inge Jakob 9.Nov. 1998 Schwengebergstr. 14 D-34132 Kassel Germany Tel.: 0561-400499 Prof. Dr. phil. Hubert Buchinger Universität Passau Lehrstuhl für Grundschuldidaktik D-94030 Passau Germany
Testimonial regarding the Vieyra Reading and Writing Method
At the end of May 1998 Mr. Gustavo Vieyra presented his reading and writing Method in our "Kindergartenhaus". The pilot program lasted for about five weeks.
During the first two weeks Mr. Vieyra took part of the daily Kindergarten curriculum. During this time he became familiar with the children (a group of 20 children) and with the daily routine. Mr. Vieyra was very well accepted by the children so that he could start with his method from the very first day. With a narrative style he introduced his Cartoon story.
On the second day he asked the children to retell the story, based on the pictures of the story (about 1\4 of the whole story); new pictures came into play. The narrative was followed by all participants with gestures. The story was narrated backwards at the end of the hour.
In the morning, during recess time, the children were encouraged to draw and retell the story; small books were "produced". In the third week the children received square-designed paper, each square corresponding with a picture of the story. The children filled the squares with the pictures. Thereafter the designed paper appeared with syllables and numbers that appeared in the squares which corresponded previously to the pictures of the story. During circle time the children were able to imagine the pictures based on the syllables. They named the syllables with their corresponding rhythms, "Banane-Banane-ba, Catze-Catze-ca, Dahlie-Dahlie-da (etc.)": to each syllabic appellation the children applauded or hopped. They had great concentration and enthusiasm with the lessons.
Mr. Gustavo Vieyra worked during four weeks with the whole group and then arose the so-called "Gustavo Preschool". This group included a girl of 4 1/2 years, a boy of 4 3/4 , a boy of 5 years and four girls of 6 years old. Smaller children joined them happily on their own.
In the fifth week sat the children like "school children" on their places. On the wall separate square-designed pieces of papers were hanging, decorated with the numbers and syllables. The children learned the numbers with the corresponding syllables. Very soon they could name the syllables, when one would point to the numbers. The time factor was integrated. It came to their attention via the small and big hands of the clock: within ten minutes the children filled in, as much as they could, the respective syllables inside the numbered squares of the designed pieces of paper.. At the end of the fifth, beginning of the sixth week the children could partially decorate blank pieces of paper with squares, numbers and syllables.
It is remarkable and significant in regards to initial reading and writing, that a few children wrote words and also whole sentences, which could be read. I would like to mention, that the children during the morning hours very often moved rhythmically, and it gave them a lot of pleasure to retell the story in a short period of time with their eyes closed and using gestures.
As a prelude I would like to say, they were five moving and merry weeks, that we spent with Mr. Vieyra.
The learning enthusiasm was contagious. The children as well as the educators lived in the theme.
So it always happened, that one would hear syllables during the mornings, such as,
Kartoffel-Kartoffel-ka . . .
(extension-transfer). The pictures that were illustrated during
their free play time usually belonged to the theme.
Hands on mechanical experiences, including that of plastics became part of their thematic plays; there was even "racket-ice cream". The whole group worked together up to the fourth week, as long as the Drama was the focus of attention. The above mentioned children that belonged to the so-called "Gustavo-Preschool" were partially able at the end of the project to write words and small sentences.
The children worked since their third year of life with Montessori materials; exercises of the "daily life" and the "sense materials" stay at the foreground vis-à-vis the children and the movable letters, math materials, geometric forms, etc. are also included. A few of the children could form, read and write words with the movable letters.. However with the help of the reading of syllables (reading and writing of the Vieyra method) the children were faster in their ability to form and read words. In the sound-method from Maria Montessori and in the Vieyra-Method is the motivation of the teacher as well as the consideration of "holistic learning" (with all the senses) important.
Within the groups the children sing, dance, play theatre and illustrate a lot. Notwithstanding the children have a lot of freedom in nature.
During the sensitive phase (0 to 6 years of age) in which the children are receptive via imitation and play, the educators take over the great responsibility for the post life of the children. We should guard ourselves from "over-sheltering" the children and neither should we hold them back or halt (hinder) their development. Here we find the parents as well as the educators in contradiction. On the one hand they want a protective environment and on the other one the want the best possible improvement to the point they become overburden. Hereby a lot of work is needed in order to raise the consciousness that a child does not learn like another one, that here too the child brings forth his own character and that we as adults should be held accountable via observation to give the child the respect that he/she deserves.
Important for the child is the mastery of the mother language, the training of the senses in order to be open and secured in life. I have experienced in the kindergarten that the children who come from an orderly family (in the sense of a life's rhythm) in which the contact persons are clear and apparent bring forth security --moving freely in the group-- openness, a good self-esteem, and concentration and clearly more than the children in which these preconditions are not given. The aforementioned children correspondingly even want to have more speedy experiences.
It was wonderful to observe how Mr. Vieyra "picked the children up" at the level of their development, in accordance to Maria Montessori. Thus the so-called fast children could always play the teacher in order to reckon with their forward-looking desires. The children that needed more time in the learning task received opportunities to look, to hear, and to jump in playfully in exact accordance to their needs. In this sense the "we-togetherness" even in the group of 20 children (ages 3-6 years old) was warranted.
What the children also need to learn is, "movement, movement, movement!!!". This is lacking in the children today more than ever! I find it pitiful, that in the public schools not enough attention is paid to the individuality of the child, that the curricular guide, which must be fulfilled, appears too much on the foreground. What happy children we would have if the competitive stress did not exist along with the feeling of the "I am not OK!" How far would we as humans go forward if we were not become oppressed through the labeling that we received from our former (test) notes, when we could be free from the competition, when we could love the accomplishment in the sense of cordial reciprocity (mutual exchanges)!?. To this we could add that the children need more contact persons at their disposal (here we always experience a lot of limitations).
When the children are allowed to have such experiences, namely when they could develop themselves according to their potentialities, then they would, in my opinion, mature themselves into the adults, which as per the "we-togetherness" would construct the world.
That, which Mr. Vieyra presented in the five weeks with us at the kindergarten via his method of learning how to read and write complements itself beautifully with the Maria Montessori method and with her philosophy. The children were feeling great, were enthusiastic, happy and wanted to learn more and more:
All of that took place in five weeks.
I wish Mr. Vieyra more success in his work and am thankful for the time we spent together in which we could accompany the children of our Kindergarten-house.
With best wishes,
(signed in the original German testimonial)
Educator at the Montessori Kindergartenhaus.