Education demands, then, only this:
the utilization of the inner powers of the child for
his own instruction. ~ Maria Montessori
I recently had several fantastic conversations with a fellow Montessori teacher that I met at the Montessori Model United Nations Conference whom I now consider a friend. However, one conversation got me to thinking on an even deeper level then before about the struggle that teachers, students and parents go through. Many relate the struggles that a butterfly must go through to successfully be able to fly. The butterfly must struggle to get out of its chrysalis. Similarly, the child must be allowed to go through certain struggles in order that they can be successful at a given task or something even more grand in the future. There is a double-edged fear. One, that we need to directly help them, even just a little, so they can be successful. Or, two, we better not help them or do much of anything for them otherwise they will never be successful on their own.
Of course there are shades of gray. However, watch this video and reflect on this perspective, but try to see it from the point of view of a child breaking out of his or her chrysalis. See the different view points you can reflect on and conclusions you can draw upon when watching this video. Then please share that with us!!
And so my story starts off with a conversation that started on a bus ride that truly should have been way shorter then it was, but turned out to be just as long as it needed to be.
"Before I became a Montessori teacher, I was so different from the man that sits next to you now," said G.
"Really, how do you mean," I asked?
Well, my son whom was 5 at the time was involved in this this Montessori school. It was at some point towards the middle of the year and he was taking an evaluation of some sort and he got one wrong."
Naturally, I said, "wow, well that is very good, you must have been proud of him."
To my surprise, G told me that at the conference he was upset and baffled that he got one wrong.
"You see," he said, "let alone, I knew my son knew the answer because I had been drilling him with that question and he was getting it right every single time."
I laughed and said, "but I can't even believe you were like that because you are so far from that way of being at this point."
G told me, that he knew it and can't believe the difference in himself either and that the Montessori training helped him to be who is today.
Yet, I said, "that might very well be true, but what was the turning point that really made you see differently?"
"It must of been when my son was 6 or so years old. He was involved in this science fair. My son really did a great job. He knew everything and his project was so different from everyone elses and way more in depth. It was not something simple like color change of a liquid or a topic on recycling products or anything like that. He did something having to do with cellular energy cells. This was several years ago mind you. Over ten years easily. So, he went in with this great project that I knew he would be able to answer anything too. Yet, when he got to school and set up and people started talking to him, he did not answer a thing. It was like he forgot everything."
"And so how was this the turning point for you, I asked?"
"Well, you see, said G, my friends was a specialist in the field of cellular energy and we had soddered and worked on this project for weeks with my son. Translation was that we did pretty much everything, but I made sure he knew all the information."
"ah hah, I remarked, and so what came out of this?"
"Well, said G, I realized that I was getting in his way, his personal process, and when I took the training I had the language to explain and understand it. When my son became engaged on his own accord and within his own timing, he did amazing things and it was great for him. When I controlled and forced, the lessons were lost and nothing that he could use came of it."
Sometimes it is not the children that are the monarch butterflies that need to struggle to get out of the caccoon so that they can fly. We all have different stages in our lives where we need to struggle so that we can fly. Sometimes that takes the form of being a child, sometimes a guide, and sometimes a parent. One of many questions here is how can we set up the stage for a parent to struggle out of their chrysalis so that they can see the inner powers of their child before they open their child's caccoon too soon and send them to a different environment?
I sincerely look forward to reading your comments and hearing about all the different percpetions and points of view that come from this!