This is by far the smallest book I have read by M. Montessori. I have said many times before that while she is an amazing educator, her writing skills are not as perfected. But I must admit that this is the most synthesize text I have ever seen her write. She sure didn’t get lost in comparisons and endless example in this chapter.
To those of you reading along, how did you like this chapter?
This first chapter is basically a recap of the the benefit of her method in the evolution of children, and the dangers (litterally) of not adapting family life to the children.
I am amazed at the intensity of the words she uses to describe the life of young children that are not fortunate to live according to the Montessori pedagogy:
the children who lives in an environment created by adults lives in a world that is ill-adapted to his own needs…
the child is repressed by by a more powerful adult who undercuts his will and constrains him to adapt to a hostile environment…
Almost all so-called educational activity is pervaded by the notion of direct and therefore violent-adaptation by the child to the adult world.
I certainly have never child rearing as it is today as violence to the child. And maybe we are so used that violence is physical and destructive on the outside, that we forget that not letting the child be free and develop at his own pace is a type of psychological violence. Or are we that brainwashed on the topic of childrearing that we don’t see this as being violence anymore? I sure know that my view of childhood and childrearing have turn 180 degrees since having children. I don’t know how I would have taken that after having my first born, and taking care of him according to what is being done in our times. But after 6 years, a lot of reading, and seeing, I am now more incline of understanding this, and believing it. I have seen my oldest son being normalized after he entered a Montessori school, and I have to admit that this transformation has been very convincing, even to the ones that did not believe at first. Maybe our child was indeed repressed. And the sad part, was that we did that to him, and did not know better. As parent, we are, IMO, ill-advised.
She is also clearly against all schooling that is different then hers. ON page 3, she talks about the accord between the family and the school which becomes an alliance between the strong against the weak ” whose timid and uncertain voice never seems to find an audience”. Rejection, I agree, is a wound that really hurts, and she even sees it as being more dangerous then just submission.
I try to remember frequently how bad it feel to be rejected, and not be listened to. I think many children live this pain every day. And trying to put myself in there shoes reminds me that I can’t and don’t want things to go my way just because, as there is a price to pay. I don’t pay it, but my children does. This pain often direct my thoughts and my way of acting with my children.
I love how she talks about school should be an environment to protect childhood, from the dangers of the adult world. Even today, I doubt that this is the agenda of compulsory schooling. They rather conform then anything else.
And she finishes this chapters by talking about the social aspect of childhood. How children have never existed socially. They are the possession of their parents, and should adapt to the world of adults. But it has never occurred to anybody, she says, that children have a personality that differs from the one of their parents? He is seen as a little human without rights and considerations.
I have to admit that 100 years or so later, this is still true. Children are still expected to adapt, and the mere thought of them having their own personality is just crazy. Children should be taught and told who to do and what to do, otherwise, how are they to know? Parents are not being mean, they are just not informed. We just don’t know, and we have grown being treated this way, how can we know differently?
I see people saying how we are a child friendly society. And I now have to respectfully disagree. Just go to public restrooms. How many are child friendly? Look at all the childrearing material you can find on the shelves of many stores. They were not designed with the child in mind, but for the sake of the parent. Children, still today, as not seen as an entity, and until they finally can reach their status, the common assumptions about children (how they manipulate, they whine, … … …)will remain true
I do believe that society as it is, will be changed by it’s children, but the effort won’t come from them, it will come from the well intentioned parent that will work really hard to make a change for their children and for their future.
How did you like this first chapter? Was there anything that struck you, anything you learned, anything that shocked you? I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts about it.