From the Heart of an Age of Montessori Student
Many of you have seen Trevor Eissler’s wonderful video, Montessori Madness. If you haven’t, I suggest you go to our website and see it there. Click on Training and Making a Difference to find it. Trevor is a friend and respected colleague. We did a webinar together that is available in e-book form and as an archived webinar. Both are also available on our website.
In his video, Trevor reminds us that the essential strength of Montessori is sustaining the light in the eyes of each child. Just yesterday, a red-letter day in a number of ways for us at Age of Montessori, we welcomed two new faculty members. I also received an application essay from a student that brought tears to my eyes. I want to share with you this person’s profound insights.
She explains that, until her three-year-old entered a local Montessori school and she began to read about Montessori, she had no prior experience with Montessori philosophy. She had, in fact, been a juvenile probation officer. She wrote these precious words about her newfound understanding:
When I began to read, it [Montessori] summed up what I wasn’t able to articulate when I worked with troubled teens. In general, when children are neglected emotionally, educationally and physically, they never have the opportunity to learn self-mastery, self-respect and self-discipline…skills needed to succeed in all facets of life. These troubled teens had been neglected in addition to not having their basic human needs met. They had given up on themselves, and in turn given up on life.
“Jail is better than home,” was something I heard repeatedly. The more disturbing part of that statement is it was said with eyes that didn’t shine. At the time, I often thought who or what extinguished the light in their eyes? I now wonder, if they had learned self-mastery, self-respect and self-discipline, what type of people would they be now, and more importantly, would the gleam in their eyes be restored?
Emily Dickinson once wrote, “If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking”:
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
I believe education is the key to accomplish this. I watch my daughter blossom every day and I am amazed by her daily curiosities. The gleam in her eye is something I want to continue to foster both at school and at home.
This gleam is what we are all about. If we stuff the child full of information to assure she passes a test and loses the gleam, to what avail? The miracle of a good Montessori education is that children not only learn what they need to learn; they love learning and that gleam in their eyes is heightened and enhanced.