Last week I experienced a different culture in Beijing, China. While attending the Montessori in Asia conference, I was surrounded by people from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and India. I observed the behavior of the people around me and used my observations to assist me in communicating with others. I experienced new foods and customs of seating and serving. I presented my business cards with two hands. I wrote down my final offer when bargaining in the markets. Although they do not usually queue up when waiting in lines, I found that people were very respectful even when space was at a minimum.
Charmaine Sol of Singapore City, one of the speakers at the conference, in her presentation, Infinite Horizons: Understanding the role of culture and language in early childhood education said:
Culture is like water. We are the fish. Until you leave the water, you do not know that you are in it.
A school’s culture is the wide-angle view of the shared beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that characterize a school in terms of how people treat one another, people’s feelings of belonging and the traditions and schools’ activities that reflect collaboration and collegiality. It can also be felt in the natural order of things and the unwritten set of rules that adults and children live by. The feel of our culture is so powerful that most visitors experience it immediately when entering our schools. Twin Parks Montessori Schools’ culture is where the journey of learning begins.