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THE MONTESSORI METHOD OF EDUCATION., Issue 15686, 28 December 1914
THE MONTESSORI METHOD OF EDUCATION.
lII.—THE MONTESSORI TEACHER, Perhaps the finest, thing about the Montessori method of education is that it calves the problem of the. teacher. For there is. a. problem to eolve lure. Ask any teacher of, young children of over 10 years' standing whether her work brings her the pleasure she anticipated when she began it ; whether her daily and yearly effort £ arc rewarded by real satisfaction hi the woik accomplished; whether hot- work is a calm delight or a nerve-racking toil. Too often she will tell you of d.Bappointed hopes and lost ideals, and cont.nual nerve strain and worry. The young teacher in our highly efficient schools Marts out with freshness and enthusiasm and high ideals. Mw finds that she must fit herself into a groove, and drop hex enthusiasm and her ideals if they interfere with her smooth running in the appointed groove. In a lew years her. voice loses its sweetness—it is so often raised in harsh command. In a few years more her lace, loses its sweetness, aid jier eves are lined with care and strain. Th«\ontimial discipline <io?s it-s deadly work, and not infrequently tiio becomes something of a nervous wreck After teaching for 20 vears she sometimes wonders wliy there lias been to little reward for her lifelong toil; whv she. who started her work amongst voting children with a woman's heart, and .something of a mother's tenderness, has nothing left at the end but straining nerves and an empty life. This is the teacher's problem, and J *hink most teacher*; will a tree that the pictuie. is not overdrawn.
J hose who have visited with open eyes and undeistanding heait:* the Monteseori homes say that one, of the most beautiful among many beautiful and inspiring tilings is the quiet contentment written in the faces of the directresses. For thev are not called teachers. Dr Montessor'i has banished that word, and .--h Instituted the word directress. But only one woid at all adequately describes the, relation in which these quiet-eyed women stand to the happy Noting children under their care, ;nid when I say that that one woid is "mother" I fear I may draw down upon mvself the jealous disapproval of a host of" mothers in tho fleeh. Yet I use the word advisedly. In her wonderful! v svmjvithetic book, 'A Montetssori Mother.' Mrs Fisher tells us that she found herself marvelling at the tin nulled, .sweet-eyed, quiet-voiced woman m the background cf the Moutessori yehool. the. woman with the deep mother-heart, to whom the children in--tinctively fumed in their joys and triumphs as well as in their difficulties, the wom:in who never demanded obedience but was always obeyed with love and gladness, the marvellous woman who was hardly visible in the schoolroom, yet whose, presence filled it as with a sweet fragrance of peace and strength and contentment. Mrs Fisher fays that she, with children of her own whom she loved, could' not look without a pang of envy on this childless woman who yet "hud t-.o mnnv
more loving children than 1 had.'' The picture is a beautiful and inspuing one, ami tli" vrfat truth behind the- picture, cont.-iins 1h;» solution of what 1 have
railed the ifsdicr's probl'Tii. Tor. as Hden Keller f-ayp. "there is motherhood enough in tli-p v.-;,rid to pi round if it. is not, abused and wasted." And the. real tr.-igedy of our women (eru-h-.Tr, is that they are denied any expression .if the mother nature that "is in tin hi- The exigencies of t.h»ir work, the rigid mechanism ol school life as we know it, forbids such expression. They arc not asked to bo
women ft> much as to Lo cilicicnt nisehiiH'.s. (iradiially they must learn to withdraw love and substitute- authority, to ec.w to ask for Jove and Biibstii iito mechanical olx'die;,co : and this it is that laic's the sweotiK-ss fmm their faces and the fjuk'tintf.s front their cy<-s. What, then, is the essentia! difference between tit.' t-'jac.hor a« we kin w her and fho Mnnley.sori (earlier? Why did Dr M...-1-tess-nri find it so haul t" train her arsi-t----.'■'lls'.' Paradoxical as it may soup-d, her ono great difiinilly iva.s to "find Uach.-rs v.'h :> were willing not to teach. Slip had 1--> specially train Iter heljiers in the- :d----nio,-t inri'edibly difhculf. art of letting the rhildrpii alone.. 'lTis is what the .Mo;i-tc-sori tearN-r must learn fiirt. and foreiiiu~,'., ;i; l( l .-ill th" lime. 'J he children ;lronot to !>•- iattght : they are to b.- allowed to teach themselves. They are. not, to 1m
] ••bnmclit Tip"; they n v e to be allow, d to jgr-'w up. I'uf. so .TfC;isti'»m<yl have we. boj c.niii' to t-lio idea tlmt. w.» must, bring up : t.ll r children that we cm scarcely -r.'isn j ill's new idea: our eyes are blind to the I naked titit'i of il. We in-.? j=n i!.-v<l to i training our children. r=r> pi-oud of tr;n liinI tli.-'in. sii accustomed and det-rniin, d to I do eveiytliin- inr tliom that ran pc-sihly Ik.- done for iieni. then when w<» are nsked to stand aside and let them do that which they must, do for themselves vi/ . grow—we ]<s*.i 1 (.rasping. W« are willing, more than willing, to do things for thorn ; we will feed them and cbubo them. wash tli-f-ni ami dvi.-s them, and work for Ui.mii : we "ill do all the hard things for them t-o spare their little lingers. Thou when 1 h"v are ;,]d -emui-h we will them to sclmol, and then the. teacher wii! continue tl;e woi k » haw. ],<vmiii. Sim will in."■tiU't them larioriously and pati"iitlv and eaivfully, phr will drill them, she will disei] line ih'\n. shn- Mill t-e.-H-h or for.*' th'-m to oh; y e-mnuii'ds to cany out i.t t.ask.':. t" aii-ept without- fjiiostion her word and aiiUi'-iity. .And if tli-py lxvome d-eile ;i,,<| <di(diei)|. (and, it. may he. mnst imint< rest ■ they may he But. if t-hey lx'iomc self.wilk'd an<i (and. it may he. supreni'!y int. i.-tin.;) they must, hn piinish-d. Tire one Uiint; we ar<' all united in is a. determined effort. 1--. An evrrythintr possible for th-->m. If we could do the liiowin- for them. leo. no dntiht we would, in our nun opinion, mak' l a hotter job of it than "Nature. ]',uf oti» 'lrn_' only we will not d-. Wo will not stand aside and w.-ifeh fh" uiirar-le of Nature. For 'every cliihl is a, miracle in Xalure. Who teaches i]>' ba.by to crawl, and lat-r /.n l.» make awkward, ambitious, d'-'termin-d rffoi U to stand uprifrht and to walk? Who teaches the baby to spr-nlc, to make the first, lispin/r sounds in imitation of his elders? Some times, hideed, we spoak as though v.e huurlit them these t-liiiißs. We must think again, and think deeper, and then stand in reverence and wonder in the presence of a power that, is beyond our understiindin.z and i/nond our utmr..-.t endeavor. Thfn wo niiiy s.iy, with Ui'mrnini,''.-! j l'orapilia.: Who is it, mnkes the soft. c"ld hair | turn iiJac'J;, I And sets the tongue, miglil lie ?n Innnr at rest, Trying to talk? Lrf, us leave. Hod alone ! No doubt sonifi mother or feaehrr will here a~k whether the new system therefore jirorioses to let, the children prow wild. What is the use of having tea.chers who ar- not a.Howcd to tench? Why have, leachers at. all? T ask these critics in
turn: "Is there, then, no difference between a, wilderne?.-; rank with weeds and a. garden swept with flowers'" And where doe?; the difference lie? Both .-ire p-odiicts of Nature. To nil outward seeming both are equally spontaneous, equally true to Nature, equally dependent oil forces outside of or beyond our ken. But in looking on the garden, with its varied blossoms and its many fragrances, ive feel the presence of _ the gardener, although we may not. fee him. Ho. <!id not grow the flowers, indeed, but. lie. watched their He pruned some, he .supported fome. lie cleared the- weeds from the roots of others; some ho sheltered, some, he shaded, soma he. placed in tho full glare of the. sun. Each one he knew and watched, and each one ho helped to grow towards the perfection of its own nature. It is easy to pursue tho simile, and easy to overdo it, but there is a truth in it. The .Montessor: mother or tearher cannot begin her work until she 'has got the new viewpoint, until «ho has cea;«od to regard children as so many human beings to be trained in one pattern according to her own idea of human perfection, and has begun to look on them as so many precious souls to be, 'helped by her to develop according to Nature's idea of their individual perfection. And there is fts much fundamental and vital dilt'erein f i«iwe«n the JlonUvsj-ori teacher and the
ordinary teacher as between the wis© J* dener Who loves his plants and ejuS happy hours fragrant garaj and the artificer who spends laboriol days and years in making artificial flowe* ever straining to rival Nature an achieve impossible result;, and ov( doomed to disappointment and regrj when ho. sees the onlooker at Iris moi elaborate and perfect work turn with a impulso of joy towards the humblest daii in Nature's garden. Euz. F. B.' Macdonaui.
THE MONTESSORI METHOD OF EDUCATION., Issue 15686, 28 December 1914
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