maria montessori
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INTERESTING TO READ... november 2013

Emile, or On Education
 
This month, I thought I would write about my current perception of institutionalised preschool education. It might not be the most "interesting thing to read in November", but I am ready to take the blame for that :))!
 
In the relationship with the child, the first childhood is the time when we don't have to think each step, but feel it, both as a parent, and as an educator.
We shouldn't put so much pressure either on ourselves, or on them. We should allow them to take from us what they actually need, while leaving us the capacity to naturally act to everything that surrounds us.
The child needs unconditional love, but this need for love in the first part of his life is differently perceived by most educators.
The child is emotionally dependent on the family, but he should by no means be emotionally dependent on the educator.
We are not here to replace maternal/paternal love or to add to it; we are here to educate.
We cannot love them unconditionally when pride, will, ambition, or even our own need for affection surface.
And this is only one of the many wrongly understood aspects of education.
 
There are many people who have no place in education, especially in early education, when the bases of the future adult are laid.
From the governesses who cannot speak the language correctly, who do not have a coherent discourse, or who carelessly and easily give autism or ADHD diagnoses and up to the people in this institutions who come into contact with children and promote false values.
How could you, as a pedagogue, understand a child's thinking, if you are unable to coherently express your own thoughts?
Maybe, at least in education, we could leave compromise aside?!?
 
But what is education?
And I'll quote Rousseau who, towards the end of the 18th century, said that "We are born without vigour, we need force. We are born without anything, and we need assistance. We are born without intelligence, and we need reasoning. Everything we are born without and that we need as grownups is acquired through education.
And this education comes from nature, people, or things." - Emile ou de l'education.
 
The internal development of our faculties and organs is facilitated by the education we receive from nature. However, or, most of the times, it is prevented by adults who do not understand it.
 
The use of this development we have learnt how to do is facilitated by human education. Here, unfortunately, the neutral attitude of the adult is missing, because most of them bring their own values and life principles into education, regarding them as universally valid or as the best.
I believe that neutrality is very important in education. If you are neutral towards the child when providing him with information he might need to develop, you manage to approach the achievement of your goal as a pedagogue.
More concretely: offering access to information, while making sure that you do not highlight it through personal filters.
 
The gaining of our own experience in relation with the objects surrounding it is the education we receive from things.
To what extent does the child get to experience all these things, considering that, in most cases, the adult limits the child's access to the surrounding world, because of his incapacity to manage things?
 
A question I've asked myself a number of times is: how much of that actually happens in nurseries?
The answer I have, at least for myself, is that:
Preschool education is understood and applied in Romania as a service involving the supervision of the child, in most private institutions.
I am sure that things will slowly change, but in order for all that to happen, we need to care more, if not about the welfare of the business we lead, at least about our children.