maria montessori
facebook            simona nicolae
simona@mariamontessori.ro



INTERESTING TO READ... march 2013

 
SAD TO READ… 
 
 
"The Absorbent Mind"  -  Maria Montessori
 
 
This month's piece is rather sad than interesting to read…
I thought and thought again whether to write or not…
Well, finally, here I am, writing it.
 
I am still in Paris, at school, 3 months and a half away from the end. Sometimes, apart from school, I also work with children.
In February, I worked for a family of expats who have three children, let's call them: Alexandre, 6, Anne, 4 and a half, and Pacha, 3.
When we met, the mother told me she needed someone to work with them, to engage them in educational activities, because they already had a nanny who looked after them. 
The first week was a sad experience, because it hurt to see how people sometimes hurt their own children.
After the first day, I left a bit confused: I only met two of the three children, Alexandre and Anne; wonderful children, who very nicely spoke 3 foreign languages, but had something artificial in them, and their apparent calm contrasted with the spaces where they spent most of their time after school, respectively their rooms - which were a mix of colourful, automated, shiny, noisy things, catching the eye and the attention that these children were unable to maintain on one thing, not even for 5 minutes. 
 
Until 6 or 7 the child forms his own representation of the world he lives in. If we keep them in a world of fairytales and surrounded by unreal things (dolls, colourful stars, plastic houses, stories of animals impersonating people, computer games, etc.), their representation will be very poor, if not even null. Thus, at 6 he might be dependent of the adult and with no autonomy at all - unable to dress by himself, eat by himself - he is fed, he does not wash by himself, etc. 
Not to speak of the fact that he only saw a rainbow in pictures, he does not know what dew is, and he does not understand why a glass breaks when thrown against a wall. 
 
On the first day, I spent 15 minutes looking for real things in Anne's room (things we use in daily life). I've managed to find (in a 16 sqm room crowded with all sorts of objects) only 5 real things: a remote control battery, a plastic glass, a mobile telephone, a coin, and a tea spoon.
    
After having worked with them for 2 days, I managed, not without effort, to get closer to the older one, Alexandre, who told me: "If adults want to hurt a child they have every right to do so, and no one will punish them.”  
How to explain to a 6 year old that things are not like that, that reality is completely different?
These children come from a family of intellectuals, with a material situation above the average, but they do not spend time together, as a family…unfortunately, they can't even afford a few moments with themselves…
I did not write all that to judge or blame anybody, but only to raise a question:
 
Do we realise the price we pay for all things we prioritize before our children?

Alexandre, 6: "It's hard for me to be a good child, because I was my own educator.”

"People have always thought that playing with cubes and putting imagination at work with fairytales were two of a child's main needs. The first one was meant to set a direct relationship between the child's mind and his environment, so as to allow him to know and master it, thus acquiring better intellectual development. 
The second was regarded as a proof of the rich imagination the child projects in his games. But when holding something real to project this powerful force onto it might be reasonably supposed that he is helped to a much higher extent, because his mind is thus brought into contact with the outside world.
The period up to 6 years of age is decisive. Whatever skills the child develops during this period, they will stay with him for life. 
No superior education can cancel what was shaped in childhood. From here, we can infer the importance of social education at this age. During this period, some personality deviations caused by obstacles encountered during the first three years can still be corrected, because this is when nature completes its work.”


The Absorbent Mind – Maria Montessori