How can we best help our children? How can we assist our children to be adequately courageous to take their journey through life without experiencing failure? Would it not be easier for us to tell them what to do? As adults, we are, after all, superior in knowledge and capabilities… Imagine a world of children who go about their activities like clockwork, following the whim and fancies of an external commandant, an extrinsic orderly presence… Now imagine how it would be to be that child. Imagine how one would feel as that child.
Understanding, with as much exactness as possible, the psychological construction of the child, was what first Italian female doctor Maria Montessori felt was necessary to propel the child towards success. To bring out the best in children was identified as the true objective of education. To bring about this condition in the most natural and positive manner which would in turn allow for the child to fend for himself and continue the virtuous cycle of humanity for the betterment of mankind and for the world.
What do we want for our child of today? Evidently, our desires for our children today are not really different from children of over a century ago who Montessori observed and worked with.
We would seek for the child, one who is joyful, peaceful, generous and cooperative, one who is considerate, helpful, enthusiastic and independent, who is lovingly obedient and who remains, most significantly, rooted in reality – a child who could only want for others, the same good qualities that he has. Such is a child who, through example, will cause others to gravitate towards him. His sense of hope and unity, strong moral stability and confidence demonstrates the silent strength that he accumulates through concentration in his uninterrupted work, in his admirable deeds and in his steadfast sense of reverence in everything that he does.
It is the thoughtful child who freely goes about his occupation with mindfulness and a sense of order that is brought about by himself who can truly experience heights of self-esteem, hope and direction. He embraces challenges and feeds on the infinite possibilities brought about through experimentation through play, his work, his interaction with other children and his verbal exchanges with adults. Thissense of wonder and hope propels the child towards a continuous journey of discovery and spontaneous creativity in seeking to improve himself – to be a master of his own existence – to be a truly responsible and disciplined person.
As the child goes about doing things for himself in everyday life including dressing himself or preparing himself a snack, he is reminded that, given the mental and physical strength as well as resources, he is well and truly capable of taking care of himself. His joy at such an initial discovery would cause him to share his success stories in conversation and in his action as he helps others to improve himself.
With this bounty of experiences through practice with didactic apparatus and materials (most typical in a Montessori environment are solid and shapes which connect to each other through a single common denominator eg. size, colour, texture), these “play materials” which the children work at are aimed at a useful learning experiences and outcomes, which the child again goes on to share his wonderful successful experience by repeating the activity or showing the same to a friend.
A similar approach and attitude is taken when discovering literacy and numeracy through manipulative concrete activities which the child freely engages in as he teaches himself to listen, speak, write, read and count, eventually leading him to discover the masses of items and materials which make up hisimmediate, communal and ultimately global environment through the study of various cultural information pertaining to zoology, botany, history, geography as well as the world of science. Again, the concrete experiences the child delights himself in are retold through repeated activities or animated conversations and illustrations the child reproduces as he shares his knowledge with other children and adults. This exhibits profound respect and keen awareness in a most orderly and peaceful manner, attributes which anyone would want in a child for all children and to sustain in themselves for the rest of their lives – to lead and allow for others to be lead only in the best and proper ways.
As Dr. Montessori said in The Absorbent Mind, “We serve the future by protecting the present” – we may be unable to change the past, but we can learn from it and we can help inform others about how
we can create our future.
BY AISHA Z. ABDULLAH
PRESIDENT, MONTESSORI ASSOCIATION OF MALAYSIA
The Expat Education Guide 2011/2012
" ExpatGo welcomes and encourages comments, input, and divergent opinions. However, we kindly request that you use suitable language in your comments, and refrain from any sort of personal attack, hate speech, or disparaging rhetoric. Comments not in line with this are subject to removal from the site. "