Q1: How can we explain that the child is his own creator? Then what will be the role of adults? It is the child who builds himself and not others. The assistance that is provided by the parents helps the child to build himself. Children are dependent on adults. So the adults should give them right conditions. The adults should have clarity on what they are doing and whether they are offering anything for the child’s development. The adult should also know what the child actually needs and whether he is capable of giving them in the form and manner that child actually requires.
The adult may offer help according to each child’s capacity but at the end, it is the child who has to achieve it. For example, we may send a child into a drawing class, but it is the child who has to draw. We can only provide direction, but it is the child who decides which direction to take from us. The adult should learn patience and modesty while taking care of the children. This will help the child in developing his personality. There is another factor that plays an important role in child’s development.
From the time the child enters the mother’s womb (physio embryonic period) and till the time the child is born (psycho embryonic period) the child’s development is governed by Nature, which sets its laws of development. The knowledge of this factor will help the adult understand that he is a mere facilitator in child’s development and not the sole knowledge repository for the child’s assimilation. As the child is entirely dependent upon the adult for proper assistance, we should train ourselves and restrain from giving them help directly. Direct teaching will create a situation of superiority and inferiority.
So the assistance should be given as indirectly as possible. This builds up the self confidence and self esteem of the learner. Let me illustrate this point with an example. Situation here is our need to instruct the child that he needs to bring back a toy that he has kept somewhere. Instead of telling him explicitly the same instruction, we may play with him some game or provide some incentive for him to feel like bringing that toy back in a way that he does not feel that he is doing the work for us, but actually enjoying and playing a part in a game which requires him to bring back the toy on his own will.
Constant supervision and correction will result in loss of self confidence and self reliance of the child. This will be an obstacle in developing the personality of the children. The family plays an important role in giving valuable contributions to the child for his development but it should not be considered an exclusive environment for the child. The family environment should cater to the needs of the family and not function only for the sake of the child.
This kind of interference is possible only after the birth of the child and therefore it is necessary to show understanding and restraint on the part of the adult. Assistance offered by adults for the child’s development should take nature’s laws of development into consideration. Help should be given as indirectly as possible taking care not to intervene or interfere too much in the process of development. Q2: How do you explain the idea of Dr. Montessori that the child is not a miniature of man but has his own identity in the human family?
Child is often treated as somebody who needs to be taught by instruction. He is incapable of doing many things but he has the qualities in him to develop into the various capabilities we expect him to acquire. The qualities are in the form of seeds that have to sprout into stems, leaves, branches, flowers and fruits and attain full nature. This will not happen unless the child gets his developmental needs satisfied. Mother Nature sets the various tools to be executed with the time span determined for such achievements.
The nature has bestowed upon the child adequate powers to fulfill these great tasks. But before all these great tasks, Dr. Montessori is emphatic in stating that, the first and foremost of all child needs is the great and miraculous construction of a healthy human adult. The children are dependent on the adult. So the adult can provide right conditions. So adult should have knowledge of what he is doing and whether he is offering anything for the child’s development.
He should also consider that whether he is offering, in the form and manner that the child needs, if he capable of finding out what the child needs are, if he is interpreting the child’s needs from an adults view point and not the child’s. It is very important to realize that child’s life and work is directed towards the construction of his inner self. Man the child, and Man the adult, are two forms of the human being. The child is not a miniature adult. The child needs are not measured as the same as that of the adult in a smaller measure. The child has his own life and development. Dr.
Montessori says very clearly that it is the child who builds himself. Every person can understand that every capability or skill was developed by him or herself. It is the child who builds himself and not others. Not even the parents or the adults in the family. The assistance that adults provide would have helped the child build himself. A popular slogan is “Help the child to help himself”. Adults should think that they have to mould the child and could offer them help within their reach and capacity but we should also keep in mind that in the end, it is the child who has to achieve it.
A child of two and half years is capable of performing all that can characterize a human being like walking, talking, choosing, behaving in society. But he does not receive any formal training. A child looks towards other children and then tries to imitate and achieve what he finds interesting in other children and not available with him. For example a child is unable to complete an assembling puzzle. But when he finds that his friends are doing the same, they take their help and suggestion on how to complete the puzzle.
They then act upon those suggestions and imitate all that their friends do to achieve their task. They have therefore successfully trained themselves without any adult supervision. The adult here however played an important role by providing the material (the puzzle) and the environment (the room with children) and the atmosphere of comfort that the child need not worry on not completing a puzzle, but could still find out and ask around if the child deems it important for himself. Therefore the adult need not be worried, that the child is not learning anything from the adult.