I am most certainly one of the most fortunate people alive today. Not only do I work for an outstanding company, Childrens House, but I also work in the most amazing environment! Childrens House’s vision is to extend a helping hand to the Children of this world, building a bridge between the expectations of adults and the needs of the Child; providing them with the relevant tools required. This company is based in one of the most environmentally advanced and stunning areas of Cape Town.
Our offices are surrounded by natural wetlands, home to mongoose, waterfowl, amphibians and flora. The park is clean with walkways providing the most pleasant way of spending my lunch break, taking a walk in the middle of the day.
Marco Polo experienced the following while traveling in Persia: this initial experiment (by Marco Polo) got at the question that lies at the heart of environmental psychology: how does our environment affect us?
“In 1272 Marco Polo was traveling through the kingdoms of West Asia and noted that the people of Kerman were good, humble, helpful and peaceable; whereas their immediate neighbours in Persia were wicked, treacherous and murderous.
The king of Kerman had asked his wise men what the reason could be, and they answered that the cause lay in the soil.
Splendidly empirical in his approach, the king had ordered quantities of soil to be brought from Isfahan (whose inhabitants surpassed all others in wickedness), sprinkled it on the floors of his banqueting hall, and then covered it up by carpets. As the next banquet started, his guests ‘began offending one another with words and deeds and wounding one another mortally’. The king declared that truly the answer lay in the soil”
I know that it is extremely difficult to answer such a broad question easily – but I (like Maria Montessori), believe that the answer is, you define your environment, but to do this; you need to start with a well balanced, prepared environment, i.e. your environment affects you as you affect your environment.
Maria Montessori was adamant that “The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.” The Secret of Childhood – 1966
This is evident in her formulation of the prepared environment as a classroom, meaning that The Child has a classroom that is calm, ordered with easily accessible space to store the Montessori materials for The Child. These materials are didactically correct, precision made enabling children to work on their own. They are free to choose these materials and work at their own pace.
For this reason, Childrens House takes the environment extremely seriously, ensuring that whatever we do, we do with consideration to what the impact will be upon The Child and their environment. Claire Wessels