The Museum of Modern Art’s fall exhibition, Century of the Child, closed last week, but if you have a teacher on your holiday shopping list, check out the exhibit’s enlightening and beautiful catalog. The exhibit was an overview of the cross section between design for children and the way we think about childhood. I turned right to the index to see how many references there are to Maria Montessori, and as expected, there are several. In fact, one of the pictures of Montessori teaching materials looks like it could have been taken in one of our Children’s House classrooms. I’ve always taken a special pleasure in pictures of children in Montessori classrooms that were take in the 1930s and 1940s. When my son was a young Montessori student, we visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Anne’s story was more real to him because of a picture he saw of her Montessori classroom. He recognized the bead chain on her classroom wall. All of the sudden, she was someone “like him,” which is of course the whole point.
There’s another section in Century of the Child about children’s books from the WWII era that reminds readers that publications used pictures of “smiling children dressed in military uniforms, to make war seem appealing.” It was also interesting to see a photograph of Roald Dahl’s first children’s book, The Gremlins, which was a collaboration with Walt Disney Productions. And I had no idea that McDonaldland (the world of Ronald McDonald and his friends like Mayor McCheese) was based on the 1970s children’s TV show, HR Pufnstuf – so much to learn!
On a completly different note, a few days ago I heard a really interesing report on Anna Sewell’s classic novel, Black Beauty. If you missed it, here’s the link: