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Gebhardt-Seele, Peter G. 1931-

GEBHARDT-SEELE, Peter G. 1931-

PERSONAL: Born May 11, 1931, in Braunschweig, Germany; son of Franz S. (a painter) and Käthe (Seele) Gebhardt-Westerbuchberg (a sculptor); married Heidi Lissau (a teacher), July 11, 1953; children: Franziska, Michael, Katharina, Veronika, Marianne. Education: Munich Technical University, diploma, 1959; University of Erlangen, Ph.D., 1962; State Institute for Teacher Education, teaching certificate, 1967; Aktion Sonnenschein, AMI-Montessori diploma, 1977; Washington Montessori Institute, AMI diploma, 1978.

ADDRESSES: Office—Montessori Internationales Ausbildungszentrum, Espenstrasse 1A, Munich 80935, Germany.

CAREER: Standard Electric AG, Stuttgart, Germany, computer programmer, 1959–62; Realschule des Katholischen Familienwerkes, Munich, Germany, principal and teacher, 1962–77; Mater Amoris Montessori school, Washington, DC, teacher, 1979–81; Montessori School of McLean, McLean, VA, teacher, 1981–82; Washington Montessori Institute, Washington, DC, teacher trainer trainee, 1982–83; Sion Hill Montessori College, Blackrock Co., Dublin, Ireland, teacher trainer trainee, 1984–85; Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), elementary trainer and conference speaker/workshop leader throughout North America, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Australia, 1986–; Montessori Internationales Ausbildungszentrum, Munich, director of elementary summer course, 2001–.

MEMBER: Association Montessori Internationale.

WRITINGS:

Rechenmodelle für wirtschaftliches Lagern und Einkaufen, R. Oldenbourg (Munich, Germany), 1962.

The Computer and the Child: A Montessori Approach, Computer Science Press (Rockville, MD), 1985.

Contributor to periodicals, including Kinderarzt, NAMTA Quarterly, and Family Life.

SIDELIGHTS: Montessori educator and author Peter G. Gebhardt-Seele's The Computer and the Child: A Montessori Approach incorporates teaching aids to help introduce elementary-aged students to basic computer languages such as LOGO and BASIC, and also provides them with a rudimentary understanding of electrical circuits. Noting that no prior knowledge of computers is necessary in order for teachers to use this program, the author maintains that The Computer and the Child "is of interest as an orientation and practical help for any parent or teacher, for institutions concerned with the educational discussion of computers in education, and of course for Montessori schools, parents, and teachers."

Gebhardt-Seele once told CA: "As an engineer, I enjoyed putting computers to work in the early 1960s, but I also realized that the real challenge is not technology but human relationships—even gigantic technological problems like the environmental preservation of our globe is at first glance a problem of human cooperation. So I decided to quit engineering and become a teacher. The high school of Katholisches Familienwerk in Munich, Germany was a group effort to design a better school.

"After many years of teaching, I realized that in order to be most helpful to children you need a comprehensive educational philosophy based on observations of the growing child. I found that in the Montessori method, to which I have since devoted my studies and work.

"In 1977 I relocated to the United States to train at the Washington Montessori Institute and to gain experience in Montessori schools. In Germany, schools are more closely regulated by state authorities; therefore, it is more difficult to establish a non-traditional educational method without compromises. My experience utilizing English as an everyday language (as opposed to learning it in school) was a new revelation to the phenomenon 'language.' I realized language is a living being, like a person, incomparable to others.

"One September, when I stepped into my new classroom at the Montessori School of McLean, Virginia, there was a personal computer in the room that had been donated by parents. I was expected to introduce my children to it. My book The Computer and the Child: A Montessori Approach developed from the work in that class and the related teachings for other teachers and teacher students. The fast advancement of the computer in the home and school and the related need of orientation for parents and teachers were the motives behind writing this book.

"The Computer and the Child considers the general pros and cons of putting computers in a child's environment and discusses specific applications of the computer. Fifteen different ways to use computers in education are evaluated along with the positive and negative impact of each on a child's unfolding potential. In avoiding the often emotional biases of either indiscriminate pledges for 'modernizing' education or 'saving the poor children' from damage by high tech, this study sorts out which of the very different computer applications serve the needs of the developing child and which do not.

"The conclusions of this study are based on the pedagogy of Marie Montessori and her description of the building of the child's mind and its conditions. The passages on Montessori philosophy are carefully based on her writings and supported by extensive quotations."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

ONLINE

Montessori Congress '97 Web site, http://www.ilu.uu.se/ (June 4, 2005), "Peter G. Gebhardt-Seele."

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