Walk into any level classroom at Montessori Tides School and you can’t help but notice a culture of honor being given to the children. The adults in the classroom model respect through languge, and prepare an environment where they trust and believe in the ability within each child. The highest platform of honor I’ve seen, is the responsibility placed on the child to solve problems. A Scientific theorist wrote once, “Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.”
Take a moment and picture this: a teacher sitting at group time with 24 students ranging from ages 3-6. She’s playing a book on C/D. The teacher holds the book up and turns the pages as the children listen to the story. In the middle of the story, half the group begins to talk and make noise, clearly disturbing the children who are listening to the story. The teacher says nothing and turns the C/D off. A kindergartner, who was listening to the story observes his fellow classmates and speaks out, “Do you hear that? The tape is not playing. We have to be quiet to hear the story.” The children immediately check their own voices. Lo and behold, ownership of the problem settled into the heart of the ones who should own that problem. Order is restored. The teacher still says nothing, turns the book C/D back on and the class finishes the story undisturbed.
At the heart of this culture is a value for freedom. This freedom has boundaries, but we use these boundaries to make room for a level of personal expression that brings what is really inside of the child to the surface. We call this internal control rather than external control. Internal control places responsibility for his actions squarely on the child giving him the freedom to choose his desired outcome. Conversely, when a teacher feels the need to take control, the outcome is usually punishment in an attempt to “fix” behavior. Its only when children discover their true capacity for self-control and responsibility, they then have the revelation and opportunity they need to fully embrace and anticipate success in other aspects of learning.