postheadericon Awakening The Personality of the Child

You and I know only too well what is was like to be child within the repressive atmosphere of a “graded school” with its rigid and regimented lock-step academic routines which were designed to make and keep children docile and on the same page of development as everybody else. I recall with pain the memory of witnessing some exceptionally brave, bright, and admirable classmates labeled as being “difficult” pupils and whose behavior was condemned as “rebellious” and who were accordingly shamed and punished by our teacher in front of us all simply because they were trying to go beyond the ordinary and match their work with their natural talents and interests. Such schooling was humiliating to those who dared to express their personal individuality and freedom, and witnessing their persecution such arrogant schooling very much inhibited the rest of us meek onlookers. Maria Montessori spent the greater part of her brilliant professional career countering such stiff schooling by creating and introducing to the world especially prepared learning environments for children that valued human relationships more than formalism and that actually cultivated a spirit of independence. Quite remarkably she proved to the world that one was able to develop in young children personal habits of self confidence, self discipline, and self motivated learning. The secret of such success came about by simply beginning their learning life early with unique yet natural exercises of practical life and sensorial life – activities that were unknown within the classrooms of mass schooling. She revealed that by providing young children with such opportunities, she not only was able to assist the children in learning these basic human skills but she also was able to awaken the innate power of their personalities -- to quicken the natural instincts for personal life and to continue the development of all their human potentialities to the fullest. When Dr. Montessori began her reform of educational practices, she started “from scratch” with fifty rough and tumble kids aged three to six within one large empty room. As a scientist of the human child, she took up this challenge with great enthusiasm and put to work her own great gifts of observation, imagination, creativity, and spontaneity. With the assistance of one young woman she soon created a learning environment which day by day responded to the developmental needs of the children and by so doing she very soon had the bunch of them thriving as would flowering plants in a well prepared garden. This remarkable accomplishment amazed everyone including Montessori! She had discovered the child! And she uncovered the astounding fact that a child did not need to be “taught” but could learn naturally. All that was needed was a responsive learning environment that fit the child's individual developmental needs and a caring educator who knew how to present the child with learning opportunities to experience individually. Instead of making children sit passively and silently in screwed down desks, she discovered she could with confidence allow the children to make personal choices of learning opportunities presented to them and to practice spontaneously on such tasks as much as was needed by each to gain mastery of that human or academic skill. With keen observation and ingenuity, Montessori quickly invented concrete learning materials with which a child could be challenged to “work” toward the attainment of certain clearly perceived learning ends. She encouraged each child to freely practice on these specific skills as long as was needed to master them. She was placing each child on the upward spiral of mastery to mastery to mastery of all the basic human skills in academia and in life. She recognized with great joy that she and the child could rely on this innate dynamic energy to develop one's self fully as a person of authentic accomplishments. Using her scientific observations as a guide, she refined constantly the various pieces of learning apparatus to be beautiful, precise, sequential, and self-correcting. Her reward for this preparation of a plethora of learning opportunities was the witnessing every day of the children's seemingly inexhaustible amount of personal energy and enthusiasm to grow and grow toward fulfillment of their potentials as learners and as persons. Dr. Montessori's genius as an educator is that she discovered how to awaken the individual, unique personalities of children and then how to set such powers of natural life free to become all that they were meant to be in each new and bright generation. Now, you and I, as present day dedicated parentcators and educators, take up that same great work of Dr. Maria Montessori for the sake of our own children as they in joy awaken to the benefits of their tomorrow's tomorrows.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 30 June 2010 10:11)