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Discipline in Montessori, 2
Discipline in Montessori, 2

Discipline in Montessori, 2

The first paragraph in this quote makes the very good, critical point that children need to be let alone to struggle and to repeat some things over and over again. They need this for their proper mental and physical development, for learning how to live in the world. The second paragraph puts the “misbehavior” of children in the proper light — I really like Dr. Montessori’s description of the nature of “misbehavior.” In The Montessori Method, Dr. Montessori wrote:
Another very interesting observation is that which relates to the length of time needed for the execution of actions. Children, who are undertaking something for the first time are extremely slow. Their life is governed in this respect by laws especially different from ours. Little children accomplish slowly and perseveringly, various complicated operations agreeable to them, such as dressing, undressing, cleaning the room, washing themselves, setting the table, eating, etc. In all this they are extremely patient, overcoming all the difficulties presented by an organism still in process of formation. But we, on the other hand, noticing that they are “tiring themselves out” or “wasting time” in accomplishing something which we would do in a moment and without least effort, put ourselves in the child’s place and do it ourselves. Always with the same erroneous idea, that the end to be obtained is the completion of the action, we dress and wash the child, we snatch out of his hands objects which he loves to handle, we pour the soup into his bowl, we feed him, we set the table for him. And after such services, we consider him with that injustice always practised by those who domineer over others even with benevolent intentions, to be incapable and inept. We often speak of him as “impatient” simply because we are not patient enough to allow his actions to follow laws of time differing from our own; we call him “tyrannical” exactly because we employ tyranny towards him. This stain, this false imputation, this calumny on childhood has become an integral part of the theories concerning childhood, in reality so patient and gentle. The child, like every strong creature fighting for the right to live, rebels against whatever offends that occult impulse within him which is the voice of nature, and which he ought to obey; and he shows by violent actions, by screaming and weeping that he has been overborne and forced away from his mission in life. He shows himself to be a rebel, a revolutionist, an iconoclast, against those who do not understand him and who, fancying that they are helping him, are really pushing him backward in the highway of life. Thus even the adult who loves him, rivets about his neck another calumny, confusing his defence of his molested life with a form of innate naughtiness characteristic of little children. (pp. 358-359, The Montessori Method by Dr. Maria Montessori, trans. Anne E. George, (c) 1964 Schocken Books, New York (and (c) 1988 Random House), ISBN 0-8052-0922-0)

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