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Farah Nanji  0:00  

We are going to be talking about the future of leadership today. And onstage I have with me Leonor Diaz Alcantara, CEO of the Montessori Group, and Sabeen Nanji, my sister who's the co-founder of Step By Step Montessori. And today we're going to be talking about cultivating the montessori mindset for future generations to thrive. Because when we consider that 90% of our adult brain forms by the age of five, is absolutely imperative that the messages and education that we receive in childhood focus not only on unlocking our academic potential, but also nurturing the values and the behaviors that go on to shape our adult selves. And so today as we wrap up the final day of the summit here in Davos, we focus on why harmonizing and supporting humanity is one of the most crucial things we all have a responsibility towards. And so in today's panel, we'll be discussing one of the most widely adopted philosophies around the world called the Montessori which nurtures each child's natural desire for knowledge, understanding, and respect, unlocking the true potential of their minds and missions that we were born on here on earth to achieve. So Leonor, tell us the audience a little bit about yourself and the work that you're doing and who you represent. 


Leonor Diaz  1:17  

So I’m Leonor, as you've heard, the CEO of the Montessori Group which is one of three global umbrella organizations for Montessori. We support Montessori schools, we train teachers, and we have an accreditation scheme. But at the heart of everything that we do is social impact. Because Maria Montessori's first school was in the slums of Rome, working with the most disadvantaged children. And we believe that is what we should be doing that is at the heart of everything that we do. And we are very pleased to work with schools across 94 countries.


Farah Nanji  1:55  

Amazing. Thank you so much. We're delighted to have you with us, Leonor. And Sabeen, tell our audience a little bit about your work.


Sabeen Nanji  2:01  

Hi, I'm Sabeen. And I run Step By Step Montessori in London.  I've been going on this journey of understanding the mind of the child for the last eight years. And I feel now more than ever, we need to be creative in what we're doing for the next generation because they're going to need an education that can stand them strong in all the challenges that they're facing. And when I look around the world, and I feel I can see this disconnect that we have to our natural world, it makes me even more passionate, because I believe these problems that we're facing, they're all manmade. So then we can get ourselves out of them too. And my path to that is through the youngest generation with the work that I do with the children each and every day.


Farah Nanji  2:44  

Fantastic. It's amazing the work that you do, and obviously, I witnessed it firsthand, and I work closely with Leonor as well. And it's, you know, it's much much-needed work that we have to sort of adopt. So Sabeen, tell us about the key pillars of the Montessori method.


Sabeen Nanji  3:00  

Yep. So the way I would describe the essence of Montessori is, if you're lucky enough to have had a teacher in your life, who you haven't forgotten, somebody who's understood you as a human being, that deep knowledge of somebody and really getting to the core of what makes them unique and special. If we think about it, there are the odds of every human being born as they are, the odds of Farah or Leonor are one in 400 trillion. And when we start an approach from that mindset of love and care and respect for the human being, everything changes and shifts, because instead of having a top-down approach to learning, we have a bottom-up approach in which every human being's potential becomes unlocked. And that just empowers the human being in a way because you set their potential free, rather than it dying inside of them. And so I really believe that Montessori is about unfolding the human being as nature intended. And I think that's the way I would summarise it. And I think the other part that one of the big cornerstones of Montessori is the classroom should reflect society. They should be a microcosm of what the world what a peaceful world looks like. And so, in a Montessori class, we have mixed age groups. And that's how we all live. We all have friends who are older than us who are younger than us. And by standardising and segregating by age groups, in one way, or perhaps the view was that we could make life easier for the teachers so that everyone would perhaps be more or less the same age. But we've stripped away that fundamental beauty of living in harmony with one another, and creating a community. And so in a Montessori classroom, we really view it as a little community of tiny humans who can function harmoniously together and I think that's one of the biggest strengths as well that I personally feel when I'm doing my work with children. And I feel the last part to what really stands out about Montessori is children are given time to really explore their interests and who they are. They're not rushed in 3040 50 minute blocks of time to circulate between different subjects, they can reach that deep flow state, because they're given the means in which that's possible. And I find that so transformative because you can go so deep in your learning when you're given time, and the ability to pursue your interests as well.


Farah Nanji  5:36  

Absolutely. Leonor, is there anything you'd like to add?


Leonor Diaz  5:40  

I think Sabeen is absolutely right. It's so important right now. We need to encourage young people to build those sorts of that emotional resilience. And I think the sort of approach that you're talking about, does that and we all know, it's a really difficult time for everyone, but particularly for the young, and that, that amazing approach that amazing kind of recreating what life is is so important to prepare our young people for the future.


Farah Nanji  6:11  

Absolutely. If we are always on the hamster wheel from the minute we're born, it just, you know, breeds so much anxiety and we're not given that time and space to really develop that flow, state, and nurture our passions. So Is there proof Leonor, that Montessori students thrive more in this world?


Leonor Diaz  6:28  

Well, there is. You know, first of all, we have over 100 years of Montessori. So we have a lot of anecdotal information that we know. And you can I think you can ask any practitioner across the world, and they will come up with countless stories of how children have thrived, and even when they've left the Montessori setting to go into a more mainstream school, you know, feedback from teachers who have said that you know, how advanced the children are, that have come from a Montessori setting. But there is actually also research mostly in the US. Two big studies were done in longitudinal studies, one actually looked at children from more deprived socio-economic backgrounds and match them against children from wealthier backgrounds. And it was found that the children who had gone through Montessori from a poor background, actually were achieving as well as if not better than the children from the wealthy background. This isn't news to us, because that's really where Maria Montessori started, you know, her first school was in the slums of Rome. That's why she became so well known because she could show that it was very good at reducing that achievement gap. But there is research there is also other research that has been done also by Professor Lilla, that shows that she looked at adults and looked at where they had had their early years of schooling. And the adults that had been to Montessori had better mental and physical health than those that hadn't. So actually has an impact holistically. We want to recreate that research here in Europe and in the UK. So we have last year we launched a 90,000 Euro European research fund, and a 150,000 UK research fund in order to actually carry out research to actually look at this also within the UK and within European settings. And this is announced here, so you're gonna be the first to hear it. We've just created a partnership with Bloomsbury publishing house to do a new journal that will publish research that looks at Montessori. So this will become a bit like the lancet for medicine or the economists for business. This will become a journal for researchers in this field as well. We want to show it works.


Farah Nanji  8:41  

Well, congratulations. There's no better place to announce that than right here in the mountains. Sabeen, do you have anything to add to what Leonor said?


Sabeen Nanji  8:49  

Well, I mean, it's an anecdotal story, but I went to Montessori as a child. And when I started my training, I'd left my childhood behind me, you know, you know, you go through the paces. And when I was 21, and I started this journey, I was just struck with this overwhelming sense of gratitude for the people who were in my childhood. And that feeling has never left me. In fact, it's grown more and more over time. So I think the people who really invest their time in giving children the proper education, it will stay for life, the impact of that,


Farah Nanji  9:21  

It becomes a huge mess when it's not given properly and to unpick what you've learned. So we've talked about flow state, but also why is it important for children to cultivate their passions, interests, and inclinations from an early age? How can this benefit us later on in life if we discover that from a much earlier age?


Sabeen Nanji  9:45  

Well, I feel like all of us go on this journey, isn't it? You know, we, at some point in our life, we do want to find what is it that's inside of us? And can you imagine if we could have that from the beginning, what that would do to people was relationship to their world to their work, because I believe work should be meaningful, and it should come from within. And I believe as well, from what I've seen with the children that it's so possible if you prepare an environment that children will fall in love with all different parts, maths isn't something people fear, nor is reading or writing. These are natural processes that developed from the earliest people in the caves, making pictures and symbols to express themselves. We have sucked that joy out of education. And one of the beauties of Montessori is the environment acts as the third teacher. So it's prepared in a way that children just fall in love with what they do. And they're given that chance to really explore and go deep with what they're doing. And I find that, you know, as Montessori said, The secret to teaching is motivation. And if the child has motivation, it's like a spiral. Because once they start realizing that they can do something, they want to do even more, and then they go on this whole journey, with the guide, helping them on that process, to go further and further with what they know. So I believe that it's such a shift in our understanding, to feel that you should love what you do, and you should love it from the beginning, you know, why have we taken that away from people, when you think of the word educate? What it really means for me is to get out the potential and seek out the good and the human beings. So we need to think of our educational systems in that same light, and not strip away that joy from the learning process.


Leonor Diaz  11:33  

I would add to that, that you're absolutely right, you know, we should all continue learning, as we grow older, we should never stop learning. And if we don't, if we have that love and curiosity for learning knocked out of us, then you know, that is going to impoverish us as adults, because we should want to always learn something new, and be unafraid to explore new ideas, new thoughts, new ways of doing things. And that's just so essential for our kind of emotional and mental well-being to be able to have that space to do something different from our day jobs. And, also, I think we forget that in work, how we innovate at work comes from lots of different ideas and areas. So from my previous job, I ran a Medical Research Institute. And we would encourage the scientists to actually do something creative, like music or art. And actually, they became better scientists as a result. Because, we were able to sort of open up their minds to other ideas that would come from somewhere else that wasn't the sort of strict, rigorous discipline of their day-to-day scientific research. So I think it's essential that you know, people like you develop, you know, our children tend to have that ability to continue learning and that love for learning and curiosity. That's, that's what makes us human beings. Absolutely.


Farah Nanji  13:03  

Absolutely. It's, you know, the education system feels like a fear-based system, where if you don't get into the right school, aged five, and pass the right entrance exam, you know, the course of your life is set out for you. And I really believe that you know, one is being so lucky to know what your passion is, but you need those people around you when you're much younger to help give you that flow state and that time and space. And then secondly, of course, having the chance to go after your passion is also vitally important. So Leonor, how can this method forge future leaders? Who can do better? And can leaders access this method? No matter what stage you are in life?


Leonor Diaz 13:41  

Absolutely. I mean, the first thing I think I've said, once I've been that I've been there, like a day at Montessori, and the first thing I said was, but this is modern leadership. And it is, you know, how this is what we as leaders want to do with our teams, we want to encourage them to fulfil their potential, we want to give them a framework or an environment, but within that environment, give them the freedom to explore and innovate and, and collaborate. And, you know, as Sabeen said, you know, in the workplace, you don't have, you know, everybody isn't the same age, you have lots of different ages. So that ability to collaborate is really important that freedom to be able to think and, and actually not to fear failure. Because that's also as you say, it's a very fear but we're taught to be afraid of a lot of things. And it's we don't have failure in Montessori. It's learning. And I think that that's really important. So I think that Montessori and leadership is really important with this is an area we're very interested in, because we think that anyone can learn. And I think also, in creating Future Leaders encourages young people to be unafraid to know how to work with people of different ages, to know how to think creatively and being negative and we know that those are the skills that we're going to need in this digital age. We don't need an education system where we absorb knowledge. You know, I say this often I can access more knowledge, more Facts in Five Minutes on my phone than I ever learned at school. So why why do you want to force children through that? Why not give them the opportunity, teach them how to learn. And critically think not, don't force facts on them. And we need to create these new skills. And this isn't just me saying this, you know, look at what even the World Economic Forum said this in terms of what the key skills were for by 2030. They were all around the social emotional learning skills that Montessori so good at teaching, and that we need to have in our future leaders. We need leaders who understand also respect for the environment for each other, for themselves for others, how to work collaboratively, you know, sadly, we only need to look at what the world what's happening in Europe at the moment what's happening in the world, to see what happens if you don't have that respect. So this is really important. If we're going to have the world that we want, we have to give our young people the chance to experience this type of learning, or else, we're going to continue going down the same path. And I don't think any of us really wants that.


Farah Nanji  16:27  

Absolutely, I think you've touched on some really important things. And as we're going into this increasingly automated world, you know, and where there's so much violence, and it feels like the the basic respect for humanity is lost amongst a lot of people. And having that, that soft skills really nurtured from the beginning, is absolutely imperative. And change always starts from the roots from the foundation that you've been given. So even though it's you know, 100 year old sort of method, and at the moment, we're obviously going through a sort of crisis in the education system, and people are, you know, sort of trying to find different ways. And yet the Montessori system exists. So how has this method sort of stayed timeless have been since it was first implemented? And do you believe it's, it can still carry forward the next 100 centuries, coming through?


Sabeen Nanji  17:16  

Well, I find the whole story of Montessori is legacy so interesting, because I believe she was a deep truth seeker and the deep visionary. And she was born in the time, you know, in this cross between the post industrial world. And even at that point, she felt that our systems was so backwards and so reductionist to what they were doing, and even touching on your point earlier about leadership, I feel all of us who take on leadership roles, we have to unlearn so much of what we've gone through in our education system, because to a large degree, that process kills our creativity, and it kills our voice. And I find that what Montessori found in those early schools in Rome, and the fact that this method spread around the world like wildfire, because of what she was observing with these children, society started calling them new children, because children who were never seen in a way that could be peaceful, harmonious, kind, empathetic, caring, carrying intellect into intelligent. And I feel that this world needs that more than ever. And I also believe that we are experiencing a collective loneliness. And from COVID onwards, I feel like we all felt what happened when we became insular when we lost those connections we desperately need. But I believe we've been doing that to children for the last 100 150 years, year by year is becoming more and more, we don't see children playing on the streets anymore. They're not there, they don't exist. You know, most of them are cooped up on devices a lot of their time. And they're losing that connection to nature, to having that freedom to explore through their senses. And Montessori principles of giving children an education rooted in nature rooted in creativity is so relevant now more than ever, and also that sense of community. I feel it's so vital to our collective well being as well that the next generation know how to relate to one another. They have empathy from the beginning. I was asking my children a few days ago in the in the class, I said, what makes you special? And bear in mind though, three, four and five years old, and one of them's beautiful little girl, she said to me, what makes me special and she's four and a half. She said, What makes me special is my personality. Because people like me when I'm kind and I thought if out for she can have that understanding and that social awareness. She's going to do great things for the people around her. So I believe that this method is so Timeless because these concepts are so relevant to us now more than ever before.


Leonor Diaz  20:05  

Can I add something to that? Because I think the other thing is there's a misperception, and I come across this a lot when I talk internationally, that Montessori is a curriculum. And it's not a curriculum. As Sabeen has said, it's principles. It's an approach, it's a method. So you can actually put it anywhere in the world, you can adapt it to any curriculum. And Maria Montessori has sort of evolved the approach as she you know, she didn't sort of in 1907, say, Okay, this is it set in stone, nothing changes, she can she herself continued to think and reflect and learn from the children. And, and sort of absorb that into the approach that it's so it's a living thing. It's not a, you know, like a curriculum that you've written down and you tick boxes, and if you've ticked these boxes, you've done Montessori. And that's why I think that's what makes practitioners like Sabeen so special, because I know that for them also, they reflect a lot and they learn from the children they work with, and they adapt as well. And that's what makes this really quite unique. It's not, you know, but there's this misperception sometimes that Montessori is something rigid. And it's not it's a framework, but it's not rigid. It's not a tick box exercise. So I think that's really important.


Farah Nanji  21:20  

Absolutely. And so, you know, you've you've touched upon technology, and it's unavoidable. And many parents, I'm sure come to both of you those questions. So how can you sort of introduce children to technology and develop a healthy relationship with it, and utilise its power in the right way without becoming overshadowed, and by it?


Sabeen Nanji 21:43  

Well, I think with anything in life, you have to think about its intention, right. And so technology is obviously such an incredible asset to our lives. And one of the main reasons why it was created was to connect us, but I feel we got to like a peak where it did connect us, but now it's disconnecting us. And so what we have to realise with the next generation, we also have to, we have to realise this part that it should be used to connect human beings. But we also have to understand its nature that it is an addiction, right? It's so addictive, we're all addicted, I read a statistic that the average person spends four hours a day on their smartphone, which equates to 25% of their year. And we really have to realise that if we as adults struggle to self regulate, with our tech use, how was it three or five year old or a seven year old able to have that capacity to self regulate, and have that discipline They're not. So we have to be mindful when we're introducing it to them to realise its capacity. So I would say that, you know, children need to have the real skills first, then we can introduce it to them, once they've got a mind which can reason and can use it in an intentional way, then you can use it in a limited approach to enhance their experience of of the world. But it shouldn't be given just a free pass at all. Yeah, because that's very dangerous. Yeah,


Leonor Diaz 23:01  

I agree. It's, it shouldn't be a replacement for the essential skills they need to learn. And for that human interaction, I, you know, I agree, you know, technology is here, it's, it can be incredibly useful. I think, you know, as we all realise, during the pandemic, that was often our only way of connecting with other human beings was through technology. And if we hadn't had that, then, you know, life would have been even worse than it was. But it is about I think, teaching children as well, that is a tool, and that they should control the tools they use, the tool shouldn't control them. And that's really important that as we say, we're kind of losing sight of that a little bit that actually, and even as adults, you know, we say we, it's almost the phone goes and you rush to it, like You're like the phone is in control of you rather than you're in control of it. So I think that it's really important that we acknowledge the technology exists, we acknowledge that it is going to be an important part. And we should teach, you know, children, particularly as they grow older, how to use it and not to have it control their lives. So I completely agree with your spin on that one.


Farah Nanji  24:11  

And so what are the challenges facing the Montessori philosophy at the moment and in the future? And how can we combat some of those?


Sabeen Nanji 24:22  

For me, I think it's that we need more people united in this mission, I think because we need it now so strongly that people really realise that, for me, I only I find the way that we can address the challenges we face in the world is by creating a next generation who have the skill set to be able to deal with what they're seeing. So I think more people need to know about Montessori, we need to spread her legacy further and have authentic places which really give that message of what it's about, you know, as you said, it's not a curriculum. It's a way of being.


Leonor Diaz  25:01  

it's a way of life. It's a way of life. And I agree, I think I think there's so that from my perspective, there are two things that I come across constantly that we're working to eradicate, hopefully. And one is that sense of, because Maria Montessori did not trademark a name. Anybody can call themselves Montessori. So this is one of the reasons why we created this accreditation scheme to be able to sort of say to parents, actually, you know, this is a way that you can recognise good practice. This, the second thing is, I think, is, as I've alluded to, previously, there is this misperception that somehow, it's it's a curriculum, it's difficult to implement. And it's also that it's for rich people that taught me I hear this all the time, and particularly when I speak to Ministers of Education, in sort of countries outside of Europe, they'll say, Oh, yes, but it's for rich people. And it's for rich and poor people. It's for everybody. Montessori is for everybody. You can do Montessori in your home. As parents, you can learn that the approach you can you can support the schools, the settings by, you know, taking those basic principles and, you know, encouraging your children in the home and being child centred as well. It isn't, it isn't just for the wealthy and the elite. It isn't just for a small minority of people. As Sabeen says, We need to get that message out there. That's for everybody. I, you know, often I hear Montessori described as an alternative, I would say it's actually the alternative that should become mainstream. That would be how I would do it. And that's my kind of mission as the of the Montessori group. I want everybody I want every child to have access to Montessori because that's how we're going to change the world.


Farah Nanji  26:49  

And so the final question I have for you both is how does this method explore the very important issues of identity, gender and race from an early age and that exploration of itself?


Leonor Diaz  26:59  

Well, I think, children from the beginning, so have the sense of who they are, because they start getting a strong identity, from the experiences that they have. And I think that empowers the human being like that four and a half year old, who knew already what makes her special, you know, they come from that sense of, of happiness about who they are. And then that can spread because they've got this mindset, which they realise that everybody in this room is special. And they use that as a way to enrich their life and to learn from one another. And I feel that if every classroom operated from that way, we wouldn't have these troubles that we have in our world, because we would live in a peaceful world where everybody is valued. And there's no competition between people, you know,


Sabeen Nanji  27:51  

yeah, I agree. And also, as I said, I was saying earlier about the respect, you know, if you, if you respect yourself, if you respect others, then you know, you're not you're going to respect the difference and love the difference. We're not all the same, and that's okay. But we should respect that we're different and not think worse of someone because they may have a different skin colour or come from a different place or, or not have what you have. And I think that that that respect is sort of fundamental to us as human beings and fundamental that we teach children that respect. Children, you know, are not naturally racist or discriminatory, you know, you put children together in a room and they'll play as children, they won't, you know, do the babies, they'll play they don't, you know, have a sense of oh, I don't play with that. One. They learn that from from us from society, from, you know, in outside influences. And I think that if we can help them understand that, yes, unfortunately, those things exist. But if we have that fundamental respect for each other, then we overcome those. I think that's a really important thing that Montessori can do and does and does. And we know that


Farah Nanji  29:06  

Absolutely. I'm wishing you both the best of luck on your collective missions to really changed the world through the Montessori method. So I'd love to open up the floor for any questions for our panellists. And if we could get a mic to this gentleman at the front, please.


Audience 29:29  

Hi, thank you for your presentation. I think it's really crucially important work that you do. I have two questions. One is when you get teachers in this framework, you mentioned that love and care and compassion empathy are critical values. How do you look for these for these values in your in your teachers? Are there perhaps even In any standardised procedures in place for testing, and vetting? So that's one question. And the other one is, how does the Montessori approach differ from the Rudolf Steiner approach that was more or less I think invented. Also 120 years ago,


Leonor Diaz  30:19  

I take the first one because that kind of sort of sits in my sweet spot is because we do we have been training teachers for nearly 70 years. Anyone can become a Montessori teacher, we actually have a lot of people who have come as a second career, they've had a career and they come into Montessori. I think it's what we look for what we need are people who are prepared to be reflective, it is not an easy thing to learn. I don't have been if you would agree that because you actually have to look into yourself. It isn't, as I said, it's not something that you learn by rote, you know, here's, here's a series of facts, you've learned them. Okay, you're off, you know, it really does require constant reflection. So I think what we're looking for would be people who have the ability to do that reflection. And of course, what we do is we support them, you know, we support them continuously. Often, we will mentor people who have already graduated and have been teaching for a while. We do a lot of CPD, because we think that's important. We encourage all practitioners to do CPD, and they want to it's not you know, we didn't have to force it on them. It's not like it's we're not regulatory, we don't say are you must, therefore, if people want to learn there has that thing. So that I think that's that's it, we often find that people get enamoured of it almost because they see the value it brings to their own lives, we've had students say to us, actually, it's changed our lives. And when you've done had that effect on an individual, then they are inspired to go out and have that effect on others. So part of it is the training that we do, part of it is having the people who get attracted to it people who, under who and who stay the course are people who are prepared to have that reflection, are reflective, and are prepared to kind of do that, digging deeper into themselves.


Leonor Diazr  32:14  

Yeah, so I'm not an expert on Steiner but from what I know is that there are many parallels between Montessori and Steiner, lots of the same premises about encouraging creativity being rooted in nature, creating a community, those, there are many similarities between the two. And I think that's why that's also stood the test of time. And many people also want that approach for their child.


And we work with Steiner we, you know, we're very open to collaboration, because I think there are numerous schools and organisations that are doing fantastic work. And so we're not saying we're good, they're bad, we're saying, okay, with we may be different. But again, part of being montessorian is actually learning, constantly learning and learning from each other. So we're always very happy to collaborate with others.


Sabeen Nanji  33:05  

If I may add, the there are trainings in empathy, compassion and loving kindness available from the mindfulness area, which also standardised. And perhaps that's something where to look into for your teacher vetting and training.


Audience  35:10  

Thank you. Hi. So I'm Tessy. I have had the privilege to work with all of you. And one project was really prominent and quite exciting and inspiring for me to be part of, at least at the beginning with Leonor was you want it as well, Montessori as we know has never been trademarked. Right. And as such, you can open a Montessori school anywhere, and when we work with each other, we have seen also some fraudulent Montessori setups, where people were claiming they were using the Montessori system but they had some other things that were not right. You were talking about creating kind of like a checks and balances the system, the five pillars of what Montessori is, and create also, for the first time in in all Montessori time, a connection between all the different continents and countries. Where are you within that project? And also, where are you struggling? And how can we as community and auditory lovers as well, and supporters help you get to where you need to be to kind of like create that unit of Montessori global, but as well, that checks and balances. So when people go online and look for an accredited Montessori system, that that is the right place to find it.


Leonor Diaz  36:35  

Thank you. Right. Great question. Absolutely. Right, so so that we've now we launched last year, the star framework, we we started as many years ago. And then we decided with COVID, that life was quite tough for schools and for parents. And so we focused very much on how can we support communities during during COVID. But we're now ramping that up. So we're doing this in two ways. The first is the star framework, which I said is looking at what is quality look like. And we're encouraging. Schools come forward and get accredited through the star framework, which is a very interactive approach. So and it's a very supportive approach. So for example, we give mentoring, so almost by the time someone applies to get the accreditation, they should get it because they will have gone through the process. And those that aren't able to go through that process are ones that aren't willing to make those changes. So there's that's part of it, we want to increase that. And part of it is getting it known. So asking, going to the question of what can we use communities and parents do is actually gonna ask your school, you know, are you accredited, you know, tell us what you do. Because often parents don't understand that and, and come back and feed it back to us. And we'd be very happy to then to have that conversation going forward. The other thing that we're doing is we made the decision to create host centres around the world. So rather than have everybody come in and train in London, we are creating these host centres around the world. So any good practice Montessori setting can apply to actually do their own training courses. So we will train the trainer's that means it's more accessible to the local community. It also empowers those really good schools like Sabines school to actually be seen as kind of beacons of good practice of you know, in their region. Our job is once we've trained the trainer's we step away, we were there to support and mentor if required, we will go in once a year just to kind of make sure that yes, that quality of training is still being continued. But pretty much they pick their independence. We've started we've opened one I think version 10. In the last five months, we've got one opening up in in Germany, one opening up in Spain, one opening up in Malaysia. So we're beginning to kind of build roll that out globally as well. But we want lots of settings come forward and offer to do that. It's also an additional source of income for them. Because, you know, in some countries, they really are struggling at the moment that governments are not that supportive or not invest in that much in early years. And particularly in the UK. I'm sure Sabine can speak volumes for that, but might be too discreet. I won't be so discreet definitely not in the UK. We are a part of the all party parliamentary group on early education and childcare. And we and we know what, what little investment there is in early years, even though it's the most crucial of the years but yeah, definitely it's something we have to do. Because, you know, if we don't have that kind of authentic supportive Montessori, we could be damaging children. That's what really worries me. It's the damage to the children. It's not about our brand. It's about the damage to the children. So I don't know, Sabine, if you?


Sabeen Nanji  40:01  

Yeah, I think quality is everything, isn't it? And so yeah, we have to find a way to make that the beacon of the mission as well. Yeah. So I completely agree. And I'm really happy to hear all the work that you're doing to promote that as well.


Farah Nanji  40:16  

Just touch upon, you know, the lack of investment from the government. Why, why is that?


Leonor Diaz  40:23  

You are probably less discreet than your system. So I'm quite happy to do that. I think governments think that don't understand the importance of early years. I think I think there are two things. First of all, I think governments don't understand the importance of early years. They think it's babysitting, they don't see it as education, which is why we talk about early years education. The other thing is, it is a predominantly female industry, across the world. It is mostly women working, and they perhaps are not as hurt, particularly in some countries as they could be. So I think it's it's not valued. And the third, I would say, is, actually we're slightly at fault. Because we've not shouted about it enough. You know, I'm not saying that practitioners should, because they've got enough work, looking after the children and running the nurseries and coping with everything. But certainly, kind of I feel that organisations like myself, like my organisation, perhaps in the past haven't been as vocal, there's been a sort of hesitancy to engage with governments, and be critical of governments, we kind of got past that, and said, Okay, you know, we need to stand up. Because we can see, this is not going to work. I mean, so many nurseries in the UK, went bankrupt during COVID. And that means that there is no longer that facility available for that community. And no one was doing anything about it. So we felt we had to stand up and do something about it. So I think those would be the three things why. And I think that's coming in other parts of the world as well.


Sabeen Nanji 42:13  

I completely agree. I think they haven't understood the gravity, that nothing replaces a happy childhood, and the long term cost of not giving children a happy childhood, because it leads to addiction and leads to trauma, it leads to so many different aspects of affecting your life, that we need to stand up, isn't it and we need to be united to clean and shout from the rooftops. A bit more about the dangers of us not investing enough in our in our children.


Leonor Diaz  42:43  

I mean, this investment in early years, reduces the need for further investment in social care. In the future, it's a no brainer, really, I mean, economically forget, forget, you know, if you, if you want to sort of say, Oh, well, we don't care about the soft stuff, the social stuff, just economically doesn't make sense. You know, you're gonna have healthy it was over the longitudinal study that was done in the US, you're going to have healthier future citizens that are not going to require so much medical care. So you know, you're going to have happier, more motivated workforce that are going to produce more. It just is even an economic argument to be made. It just I don't personally I don't get it. Maybe because it's also, you know, it would be in 15 or 20 years. From the party that's in power. Yes. Right. So they don't want they're going to do the bare minimum. Yeah, for the time that they have. Yeah, it's very sad.


Farah Nanji  43:39  

It's our reality. Yeah, definitely. Very, very sad and something that I think as a society, we all need to pressurise our governments more to do the right thing. Do we have any more questions from our audience before we close the panel? Nope. Okay. Well, thank you, everybody, for listening. We will take a quick break before we start our q&a with Deepak Chopra. And we have fantastic panels around leading with empathy and empowerment, soft skills for a digital world, the future of climate leadership, and so on. And we also have a meditation after Deepak session in the space as well. So let's meet back here in about 10 minutes. Thank you.

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