There is perhaps nothing more important to the flourishing of humanity than our ability to appraise what can’t be quantified and value what can’t be measured.
We wax and we wane, we ebb and we flow, we surge and we falter. The transformations that comprise a lifetime of growth can neither be planned nor fully apprehended.
We leave impressions and send forth ripples of which we’re unaware. We appear in one another’s frames unwittingly. We star in one another’s dramas unscripted. Our most indelible marks are not made by design.
We construct ourselves moment-to-moment, assimilate our experiences into our evolving selves, reset our antennae and adjust our rudders, then scrap our best-laid plans when circumstances demand we change course.
The developing self cries out to be known as a totality, and assessed (if necessary) as a verb – not as a noun … as an embodied process – not as an artifact or outcome.
Will we learn to cherish the evolution of our fully integrated humanity and extol the virtues that can be perceived but can’t be accurately accounted for?
This site is dedicated to understanding and describing growth, in all its forms and faces.
May we learn to wax gratefully and gracefully.
the author, Christine von Lersner
I was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (in the United States), to young, German immigrant parents who had met in South America after WWII, and hoped to return with their family, eventually, to Germany. Neither of them had a chance to complete a formal education, but I realized even as a child that they were the most educated people I knew.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the College of Willam & Mary, in Virginia. I have training in Montessori at the elementary and the adolescent levels, and have spent most of my adult life (as a professional and as a parent) in and around Montessori schools. In fact, I was tapped directly out of my Montessori training in Washington, DC, to participate in the development of one of the first Montessori adolescent experiments in the US, whose founder had been in dialogue with Mario Montessori, Jr. for years as he conceived what Mario called the “urban compromise” adolescent model.
I have, for decades, been a passionate student of Montessori pedagogy, reading many of Montessori’s writings deeply and looking for ways to make them relevant to daily practice. As a Montessori school leader, I encourage learning communities to build coherence and pedagogical fidelity through ongoing dialogic practices (teacher/teacher, teacher/student, parent/teacher, parent/student) that use Dr. Montessori’s thinking as a point of reference.
As Farm School Program Director, I oversaw the transition of a 130 student, 7th-9th grade, land-based middle school to the groundbreaking “Working Village” model of Montessori middle school. As Pedagogical Principal I led faculty and parents in regular “theory Meets Practice” dialogues, where we tried to understand mundane challenges through the lens of relevant Montessori texts.
As Pedagogical Curator and Interim Executive Director of a Montessori training and support center in Denver, I worked with a start-up team to author the vision of an adolescent training center, program development R&D hub, and the age integrated Working Village and Urban Shopfront Secondary models, implemented and developed iteratively in partnership with local programs.=
For the last ten years, I have also led a pioneering effort to build tools to promote relational accountability through contextually meaningful observation and reflection practices – in Montessori schools, and beyond. The Dimensions of Observable Growth (The DOG) is what I call a Contextually Meaningful Observation Rubric, designed to support the language and practice of self-cultivation: a key element of one of the most commonly cited 21st century learning objectives: Individual Agency. (The DOG is available free, online, where I maintain the site and support users at my own expense (www.growDOGgrow.com
) while I continue to work with educators around the world to develop a tool that points the way toward meaningful educational assessment for the coming age.)