Today’s article, finishes our initial look at some wonderful quotes of Dr. Montessori which reflect her understanding of the characteristics of what she called normalization.
The first one here, “willing compliance” or “obedience,” was believed to have three levels to its development in the child. A very young child starts out obeying simply because the request is something they also want (first phases/level). The second phase is when the child obeys out of habit or, again, because s/he will get the result they desire. The third phase, which Dr. Montessori considered the highest motivation for obedience, is when a child does what they are asked because it is purely and simply the right thing to do! The child knows it and wants to do it. Coupled with this is the child’s own self respect which enables him to respect not only him/herself but the rights of others and their needs. Unlike blind obedience, this is what Dr. Montessori called joyful obedience.
Joy, I believe, is the very essence of real learning. Without it we diminish the importance of ideas, habits, and work. More than that, we otherwise insult the very nature of ourselves as inquisitive and thoughtful human beings who have purpose and value.
Now, for the quotes. Here are some of my favorites:
- Willing compliance (or joyful obedience)
“So what we call the first level of obedience is that in which the child can obey, but not always. It is a period in which obedience and disobedience seem to be combined.”
“The second level is when the child can always obey, or rather, when there are no longer any obstacles deriving from his lack of control. His powers are now consolidated and can be directed not only by his own will, but by the will of another.”
“He responds promptly and with enthusiasm and as he perfects himself in the exercise, he finds happiness in being able to obey.”
- Elimination of possessive instincts
“If a child finds no stimuli for the activities which would contribute to his development, he is attracted to things and desires to possess them. A man’s attachment to many things and his reluctance to give them up, even if they are of no use to him, is a deadly poison that can upset his basic equilibrium.”
“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity which is derived from a sense of independence.”
- Spontaneous self discipline
“The children have shown love of work which no one suspected to be in them, and a calm and an orderliness in their movements, which surpassing the limits of correctness have entered into those of ‘grace.’ The spontaneous discipline and obedience which is seen in the whole class, constituted the most striking results of our method.”
“Social grace, inner discipline, and joy. These are the birthright of the human being who has been allowed to develop essential human qualities.”
- True joy of learning
“Once a direction is given to them, the child’s movements are made towards a definite end, so that he himself grows quiet and contented, and becomes an active worker, a being calm and full of joy.”
“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.”
The journey continues…
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