Sr Maureen MacMahon O.P.

On a Monday morning in September 1943 four of us; Frances Lodge, Ann Fitzegrald, Sr. Dorothea O.P. and myself, (Sr Grignion, now Sr Maureen O.P.) sat down in a small uncomfortable room in Sion Hill to attend our first lecture.  We were pioneers of the Froebel method of primary education in the Republic of Ireland.  The lecturers were as perplexed as we were, but as the course unfolded, revealing the open, liberal method of Frederick Froebel, both rose to the task and the first few years passed quickly and successfully. 
I was full of enthusiasm for the new method of learning through activity - “no more sitting on a hard old bench” – of encouraging pupils to explore the world around them, especially their immediate environment, to see and respect the beauty of nature and to express themselves through art.  The child was now at the centre.  We learnt how to discover the gifts and strengths of each, how to respond to these and so help the child to develop in a holistic way.  I loved especially the emphasis on self-expression through creative crafts and art. 
Future years were to bring changes.  I found myself teaching Art at senior and then at student and adult levels, but whatever the age group or subject, the principles advocated by Froebel, were as relevant at 5, 15 or 50 years.
Looking back after a lifetime of teaching, I can say with sincerity that those three years, however scrappy and disorganised, of studying the Froebel method, were for me an enriching experience.