maria montessori
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INTERESTING TO READ... december 2012

The Citadel
 
One of the final examinations for the Montessori training I am doing consists of the handover of portfolios developed by each student. These portfolios include the description of the classroom materials (in our case, specific to children aged between 3 and 6), as well as the drawings corresponding to these materials, performed by each student.
At first, I was afraid to start drawing because I did not want to spoil the sheet of paper, which I found to be perfect.
I spent 15 minutes in front of the blank sheet of paper, not daring to put the pencil on it. Then, I thought I could start the drawing by dividing it into sections, e.g.: the arm first, then the wrist, then the palm, and so on. I braced up and I thought, well, let's try it out and see what happens.
One thing I can tell you: it turned out quite all right. :)
Thus, if I were to make an analogy with life, I could say that sometimes we lack the courage to start new things, for fear we might fail. This fear could derive from the fact that the people around us told us we are not talented or we do not have the required skills for that specific thing, or maybe from the fact that somewhere at the beginning of the road, those who were next to us did not support us in that direction or did not give us the trust we needed to go on.
And in my case, related to drawing, I recall something that happened when I was 10 or 11.
We were at the drawing class, and the teacher told us that each of us was to draw whatever we liked during that class. We did not have a specific topic. So, we all started to work. I drew a circus scene: a seal and a tamer. It was just that I made a mistake in my drawing: the tamer held a whip. ;))
When the teacher told us to wrap it up, I put the pencil down and I looked at my drawing: I was so proud of it, and I though the teacher would be thrilled with my work, and even praise me. I was smiling.
When he got to my desk, he looked at the drawing and said: "What's this??? Who has ever seen a seal tamed with a whip? It's foolish! You never think, do you?"
And he went on. 
I was so sad, because I realised it was foolish …… but he didn't even look at how beautifully I had combined the colours, at the details on the tamer's jacket, which took me a while, at how beautiful the scene was…
Unfortunately, none of that mattered any more.
I remember I reached a conclusion back then: "that's it, I am not a talented drawer!"
It's been 24 years, and today, when I looked at one of the drawings I made for the school portfolio, I said to myself: well, it is true, I am no talent, but I can make beautiful things! :)
I believe that sometimes it is very important what people around us tell us about our work. 
And I also believe that we shouldn't only be careful with children, but also with each other.
Here is a quote from the last book I read, and it seems not by chance ;))). 
I warmly recommend it "The Citadel" - Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
 
"To create means making mistakes, perhaps, making a wrong step while you're dancing. It means hitting transversally the stone with the chisel. The purpose of the action is unimportant. This effort might seem sterile to you, blind man closely watching. But take a few steps behind. Watch the movement of this city neighbourhood. All you'll see there is fervour and the gilded dust of labour. But you never noticed failed gestures. Because this crowd focusing on the result of its work is building its palaces or reservoirs or large overhead gardens. The works are necessarily born from the magic of its fingers. And I can tell you that they are born both from the work of those who miss movements, and from the labour of those who successfully complete them. Because man cannot be divided. And if you only keep the great sculptors, there will no longer be any great sculptors. Who would be so mad as to choose a trade with so little perspectives of making a decent living? The great sculptor rises from the multitude of meaningless sculptors. They serve as a ladder and push him upwards. And the beautiful dance is born from the fervour of dance. And the fervour of dance requires everyone to dance, even the bad dancers, because, otherwise, there is no fervour, but a mere petrified academy and a meaningless show.

Do not condemn their mistake as the historian who judges eras after dusk. Who is going to disregard the cedar because it is but a seed or a curved shank or branch? Let time pass. All errors united will give birth to a forest of cedars that will spread its incense on windy days.
One man's mistake, another one's success should be none of your concern. Nothing is fertile without the great collaboration of one through another. The failed movement supports the successful one. And the successful movement shows the one who erred the purpose they were both targeting.
Do not invent an empire where everything is flawless. Because good taste is a virtue of museum guardians. And if you despise bad taste, you will not be able to enjoy the pleasure of painting, dance, palaces, or gardens. You will feign disgust for fear not to badly work the land. And you will be deprive through the void of your own perfection.
Create an empire where everything is fervour.”
 
 
Antoine de Saint-Exupery - "The Citadel" (1948)