Monday, October 22, 2012

Follow the Child



Let's juxtapose a few Montessori principles to see what they reveal :)

Follow the child.

Freedom and responsibility.

The child is the constructor of the man (loose translation).



Yes, we follow the child, but if the child is leading us toward a fugue, it is OUR responsibility to re-direct him. Immediately in the case of bad habits and of danger (physical, emotional, spiritual).
That applies to both primary and elementary - and all ages actually. We do NOT let babies stick their fingers in outlets, nor toddlers to stick knives in outlets - but we do allow elementary children to build electrical circuits - because we have given them a strong foundation in safety and good habits. THUS, the child's work is ENHANCED because we provided boundaries.


Freedom and responsibility. Your freedom ends where mine begins and my freedom ends where yours begins. We do not let babies pull on mother's hair just so they have freedom (that is actually called license and Montessori was adamant that license is NOT acceptable).
They learn these boundaries that we provide for them, so that later, let's say in elementary, the children learn that they have freedom to explore their interests, AND they have the responsibility to be genuine in their work - not just busy work; they also have the responsibility to meet any local educational standards.

Ultimately, they have societal freedom and responsibility as well. We can go anywhere we want on public sidewalks, but we do not have the freedom to walk through other people's gardens and yards without permission. We have freedom to visit local nature centers, and the responsibility to follow the rules set there. They have freedom to do many things in this world, but must always be aware of the local rules and laws and customs so as to be respectful of others and be a responsible human being.


The child is the constructor of the man - but it is the other adults who must provide the appropriate tools - whether these are material-goods or metaphysical realities.


A child who has difficulty telling the truth, cannot connect with reality, has imaginary friends to the detriment of making and keeping real friends - this child has a fugue and Maria Montessori provides the solutions for working these out. We do NOT follow this child down Imaginary Friend Lane, thereby keeping him from making real friends.

A child who just LOVES workbooks and worksheets should NOT be given a curriculum that is nothing but workbooks and worksheets. These things do not help the child to THINK, to CONNECT, to INTERACT. They can have their place, a very small place in the academic Montessori - and there will indeed be "worksheets" in the real world (tax forms come to mind!) - so knowing how to use them is fine.

A child who just LOVES candy, should NOT be followed to candy dish at every meal, in between every meal. A few small treats in balance is good for the soul. Too much candy leads to unhealthy mind and body AND soul.

What about a child with a keen academic interest and the work is truly deep? SURE! Keep it GOING! But don't let him stall there either. Slowly (slower than usual) still be providing other presentation, other learning. This will only serve to ENRICH his current work, encouraging new connections and sometimes integration of the new material with the current/past. It also provides additional work choices as the first main interest peters out. If a child steeped in nothing but ancient history studies that for 5 years and never gets ANY stories, tidbits, quick presentations on his local country's history - and never touches a lick of math? Is that healthy for the child? No. He's not a "literate citizen" at that point. He doesn't need a LOT of the other stuff when an intense interest is at hand - but does need continued "food" - continued balance - to promote continued studies. We are talking a small part of the week to present a few new things - nothing major - nothing distracting - just a bit of "here is something else you can save for later". But if we avoid adding in these little bits, we have an undernourished child.

We must also trust that children are capable of multiple interests at once as well. This does not mean we overwhelm them - it just means we observe - and respond. Continue our stories. Continue planting seeds so they have LOTS of time for germination as the child works to construct himself.





Follow the child.

Freedom and responsibility.

The child is the constructor of the man (loose translation).






2 comments:

  1. "A child who has difficulty telling the truth, cannot connect with reality, has imaginary friends to the detriment of making and keeping real friends - this child has a fugue and Maria Montessori provides the solutions for working these out."

    I am really interested in delving into this deeper. Could you provide the resource where Maria Montessori writes about fugues and solutions for working them out?

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    Replies
    1. Montessori wrote about fugues in The Secret of Childhood. A fascinating read :)

      It is also written about a lot in my primary AMI theory album and I see a few other sources online, but it is definitely great to go back to the original source!

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