Montessori: Guiding Life
“Education is not something which the teacher does, but… a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange.” – Dr Maria Montessori
Everywhere in nature, animals are born ready to take on life, following their instincts. An antelope, 10 minutes after its birth, can stand up, run, eat and keep up with the herd. The human being, however, is born in a state of becoming. Maria Montessori believed that human children are born in this state so that, what sets us apart from other animals, can develop in relationship with an external environment. Our external environment offers us the opportunity to experience ourselves within space. Our environment gives us feedback, and this feedback is the information we use to navigate our way forward. All of this happens automatically. It is the foundation for human development, and it is what sets The Montessori Method apart from any other form of education because, in her own words, education is an aid to life. Maria Montessori was a student of life, and this is the very essence of her teachings. She understood life, and when entering a Montessori environment, the celebration of life is clear.
Our method is based on observation of the natural tendencies of human beings. In a traditional school system, what the adult believes is important for a child to learn in each year of life, is taught to the group, regardless of the uniqueness of each individual child. In contrast, a Montessori adult takes what each individual child shows them through their behaviours and interests, and presents the child with the appropriate work that will deepen their understanding of that part of the environment that is calling to them. This is attained through freedom of movement and expression within appropriate limits. As long as a child is peaceful, and their movements are purposeful, and not hurting or harming their external environment, a child is free to be within the space prepared for learning by the trained adult. If they are not peaceful and they are showing destructive behaviour, the adult will step in and guide them to understand what is going on inside, and together find a way to work through it. This community-based attitude fosters within the child, a deep connection with life and our inter-relatedness, our inter-connectedness and inter-dependence with our surroundings. It brings about a sense of responsibility, of self-confidence and a sense of belonging.
When we imagine the adult who will come about from foundations based in an experience of a relationship with the world, an adult that understands every one of his actions has a reaction within the space that he occupies, this adult will always be able to think of the outcomes before he reacts in the world, and we will have a very different world.
Margaux Overbeek is a passionate Montessori Directress and mother based in Pretoria. Joyspring Montessori has been her passion since opening its doors in 2018. She is a mother to two beautiful children and loves to pass on her passion for the developing child through her facilitation in the classroom. You can contact her on email@example.com for more information.