How Do We Give the Child Respect and Dignity?
Maria Montessori had a unique and very special way of understanding the role of a teacher in a child’s life. She diverged from the popular opinion of her day that children should be obedient and learn from the expert adult. Instead, she upheld the belief that a teacher’s primary job is to be humble in the presence of a child and to be a sort of “scientist” observing all that the child needs from his environment to thrive and learn.
She likened the child to the Messiah. She saw the child as a sacred being that should be respected with great dignity. Therefore, Humility is the first and most important task for any teacher or parent. As Mary Ellen Maunz has said, in Montessori, “The teacher’s happy task is to show the way to perfection, providing the means and removing the obstacles, beginning with herself. For she may be the greatest obstacle of all.” That obstacle is usually due to a sense of Pride or Ego.
Montessori said it is so important for the teacher/parent to examine himself to look for any speck of pride or ego before he begins to work with the child. When these traits are cleared away, the adult will be more able to be like a scientist with the child, keenly observing and noticing what he needs.
“To be a good observer also takes humility, a humility that considers nothing too lowly to absorb our full attention and that desires that our children exceed us. Humility is the quality that replaces the pride of the adult ego that thinks that we are the ones that form the child, that our world is the world the child must conform to rather than perhaps considering that we can learn from the child” ~Mary Ellen Maunz.
In this Montessori approach, the child’s Personal Diginity is greatly upheld. Instead of being scolded, he will be taught how to manage the social-emotional issue more skillfully. Instead of being told what to do, the inner wisdom of the child with be brought out. And this will all result in a better learning environment where the child is most likely to thrive and learn with ease and joy.