Thursday, May 21, 2009

Education for Life

It was difficult for me to get through this terribly short chapter. Montessori emphasizes the importance of all of society in embracing her definition of education as the creation of man, and, as such, being integral to life, rather than what is found in "academia."

In defining education as the building up of the whole person in this way, she encompasses traditional education along with quite a bit of idealism. To me, it sounds wonderful, but I can hardly see how it can be implemented. Montessori personifies "civilization" and "education" and describes them in active terms: "civilization must ..." and "education should ..." When she writes, "Fathers and mothers must shoulder their responsibilities" I am on board: this is difficult, but within my mental grasp, but as she continues with "and if the home fails for lack of means, then it is required of society not only to give the needed instruction but also the support necessary for bringing up the children," I am flummoxed. I cannot even imagine how this would happen, since I am reading "society" as "government." I would not be ready and willing to allow "people who know better" to necessarily govern my family's home life. So this is one problem I do not know how to mentally digest.

Another problem I have is the description of the child at birth: "he is nothing—psychologically speaking. ... he is incapable of coordinated movement." What I have learned from my midwife in the past year is that babies are astonishingly coordinated, and can crawl up the mother's stomach and latch onto her breast without assistance (assuming a healthy, natural birth). This is a minor problem, and I can't help but think how fascinated Montessori herself would be to find out what modern science has discovered about children in the past century.

The main thing which I noticed which was not mentioned in this chapter is the idea that we already know what man should be, and the only question is how to best support the child, in our role as collaborators, to reach the "end" of the journey, which she describes as "a single center."

This is difficult for me: combining the ideal and the practical. I understand the ideal (or pretend I do), but I don't know how to make it even touch the practical, even occasionally. I am feeling more Erma Bombeck than Maria Montessori in my "prepared environment."

What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. So, while a short chapter, again, plenty to think about. Magda, I think part of the problem with "society" picking up the slack, is that we know how off "society" or "government" is, and can be. In most cases, I shudder at the thought of how "society" would raise my child. Also, tho much of MM's thoughts are being proven true, they are not yet a standard, which in order for her definition to become reality, is a must. In a small group setting-ie, a nieghborhood of like minded Montessorians, much of this is more than possible, however, this is not yet a reality. How wonderful if/when it is! So, in the end, we're left to the task on own. Which seems to be the opposite of what MM thinks it should be. I have more thoughts, but I also have a hungry baby, so I'll leave with this thought-we'rea ll crazy busy, maybe we should leave the time for posting Thursday to Thursday, no matter how short the chapter. Just adjust the reading from chaps due Mon to Thursday of that week. this will take longer, but that's not a big deal to me. Just athought!


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