"I'm so glad we are all good at different things."
Today I was performing a task alongside a collegue of mine and I expressed how much I loved the task to which she responded with the above comment. This struck a deep chord with me as I was preparing to write this webpost about the beauty of authenticity. All of the greatest improvements throughtout history have come from people who were able to think outside the box. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with children knows that they are small people with BIG vision. I applaud those parents who have embraced the uniqueness of their children and are making an effort to give them the continued gift of being unique in a society that largely embraces conformity. As children discover their world they do so with their whole selves. An engaged child often uses more than one sense to discover and their entire little bodies are prone to form or move in order to fully engage.
Maria Montessori described ages 0-3 as an unconscious absorbent mind. This means that a childs brain works like a sponge-absorbing almost everything in their environment and then the information sinks deep into their psyche, developing various observations and ideas of the world that will likely remain with them into adulthood. This theory speaks to the importance of the early years...hence; our Toddler environment.
Maria Montessori then described the ages 3-6 as those of a conscious absorbent mind. The sponge is still in tact-the child absorbs exorbient amounts of information using multiple teqhniques and senses. But, their consciousness now plays a role in decifering information. These children begin to be led and guided by their personal interest and intrigue. Children begin to gain the ability to think and reason. Their desire to participate as part of a community develops as the find themselves repeating tasks in an effort to master their bodies and minds. The beauty of this is evident in a normalized Montessori Early Childhood environment.
The transformation to an elementary aged student, about 6 years old, is like a huge explosion into a much bigger world. They can see and recognize a world outside themselves. These children begin to discover that they have something to contribute to a larger community. The elementary years find a child with big thoughts and big ideas paired with the ability to take ACTION! At 6-9 years old they find satisfaction in collaboration and their big ideas grow as they learn to combine ideas with their peers. Big idea plus big idea equals enormous idea.
Although we see a child become slightly more "me" oriented around nine years old, we now have a child with the ability to transform their ideas into other ideas as the skill to abstract grows. They see the change they are capable of making. Now, we are looking face to face at these big thinkers who have, hopefully by now, experienced the satisfaction of making some signifigant contribution(s) to whatever society they feel they are a part.
One of the most disheartening things about society, to me, is its huge impact on taking away big ideas. No matter how big the box, the truth remains, we don't all fit inside it. Our world thrives on originality. Our children deserve the opportunity to be empowered by the big ideas floating around inside their little bodies. Having all this wonder and hope and excitement about the world can hardly make a change if we take away the ability to apply them. How can we do that in a system that expects the same things from each person? The video below supports the idea that our children deserve to have a voice and we, at Montessori Community School, are proud to have the ability to give it to them. We are more than the private school down the street. What do our children want from their education? Are they able to voice the importance of their needs and wants? Are we listening when they do?
I invite you to take three minutes to hear one perspective on the subject and when you are done watching pat yourself on the back with the knowledge that just by reading this post or watching this video you are taking steps in the right direction as we strive for a better, more authentic education for our big thinkers!