It was one of those long-shot ideas formulated in an online conversation with my dear friend Andy Lulka. Did she think her mentor, Dr. Philip Snow Gang, might be interested in speaking to the greater Montessori community through an online conference? She wondered too, and little did we know, that my introduction to Phil would shift the course of how I think of Montessori.
Phil’s and my first phone call was over an hour long, and I left the call elated that he was interested in our project, and thankful that my travels had me routed right through his current hometown where I was welcome to capture Phil’s wisdom in an interview.
Although I had researched and delved into his work, had developed some burning questions, and felt fairly prepared for our late winter interview, I was overcome in the moment we met. I found that Phil exudes a palpable energy that initially muted my normal exuberant affect. He and Warren warmly welcomed my film crew (my husband Aaron) and me, plied us with some of the best chocolate and espresso we’ve ever had, and my awestruck state was ready to dig into some big questions.
It was Phil’s gentle, measured, mindful responses that calmed my heart and assisted us in recording the radiance that is Phil. For several hours, we explored the essence of Montessori, the undiluted principles Phil learned from first generation Montessori trainers as well as those closest to Dr. Montessori, and the revelation of the interconnectedness of all things. Our analysis also delved into the practical application of how guides can ignite their students to find their own cosmic tasks. Our meta dialogue about dialogue has shifted how I view teacher education. The focus of the interview was “Bringing Back Montessori to Montessori,” which is essentially Chapter Nine of his upcoming book, Educating for Right-Action and Love: Extending and Expanding the Montessori Vision.
Our time together was too short, and we all agreed that one day, our paths will cross again and we will raise our espressos at the fortune of finding kindred spirits. In the meantime, I have the honor of introducing Phil for the Keynote Interview during the Principles to Practice (P2P) Summit, an online conference starting June 21-25th. As a partner with Trillium Montessori in this seminal Montessori conference reaching well over a thousand viewers, I’m feeling so grateful to Phil for sharing his self and wisdom and maybe most of all, his radiance.
The full-length interview between Dr. Gang and Tammy will be the Keynote Presentation at the upcoming P2P Principles to Practice Summit, June 21 – 25.
Tammy Oesting spent the last 26 years delivering professional development workshops, consulting schools, and educating new Montessori teachers and has 17 years in Montessori classrooms. She serves Montessori globally through her company ClassrooMechanics.