Saturday, February 27, 2010

More about False Fatigue

     A very interesting question has been left in the comment section after my piece on false fatigue. "What should a teacher do during this time? I have only substituted in a classroom as I am still training, but what I noticed was engaging in imaginary play and misusing materials and furniture, so how do you deal with that without over managing?"

     Dr. Montessori was pretty clear about what kinds of behaviour should be stopped and what kind of behaviour should be left alone. For example, in The Montessori Method, she said, "We must, therefore, check in the child whatever offends or annoys others, or whatever tends toward rough or ill-bred acts. But all the rest, -- every manifestation having a useful scope, -- whatever it be, and under whatever form it expresses itself, must not only be permitted, but must be observed by the teacher." (p. 93). I have interpreted this to mean at all times including during false fatigue.

     So, if the imaginary play is not annoying or offending other children and the materials are not being misused, I would stand back and observe what is actually taking place. Is the child exploring the materials and making discoveries within that imaginary play? Does the child abandon imaginary play after a few minutes and become deeply focussed on the work? Is this play the child's way of partaking in false fatigue – is this her way of preparing for the next stage of work? Observation will answer any of those questions and will dictate what, if any, action is needed by the teacher.

     As for misusing materials and furniture, this should be stopped immediately. Taking a child by the hand and having him stand with me while I work with another is one method of halting inappropriate behaviour. Another is to invite the child to go for a classroom walk with me until he finds something interesting to do. On occasion, I have suggested a child go outside and dig eggshells into the garden or fill the birdfeeder. I have even opened my arms wide and enveloped a child in a great big hug. Keep in mind, however, that whatever method I choose comes from my relationship with the children. A hug may refocus one child only to aggravate another.

Hope this helps.


Adventures in Montessori said...

Thank you for your insight. It was helpful. I think at times it can be very overwhelming especially when you are not in a classroom on a regular basis and all of the readings tend to focus on how things should look, and the naturalized class, but it is not always that way. It is hard to tell sometimes what to do when your kids are not "following the method" as the children in the many writings of Dr. Montessori are.

Kathy said...

Hi Cynthia!
This is an interesting subject. I think
of the times my daughter would throw herself
on the floor, whining and say, I'm bored.
I got in the habit of ignoring it, instead
of coming to the rescue, and she worked her
way through it and found another occupation.
If a parent or teacher is always in the rescue
from boredom mode, the child does not move
on and learn independence...interesting.
Montessori was so wise!

Anonymous said...

I am a Montessori "director"(male) and I just batten down the hatches and ride out the storm. My assistants are not trained and tend to frantically put out fires while I sit back and observe.

Cynthia Dyer said...


Kathy, I like that term - rescue from boredom mode. That is exactly what many people do whithout realizing the potential impact of their actions.

Anonymous, I hear you. Sitting back takes a lot of practise and mindfulness.

Anonymous said...

I have false fatigue from first line time until the end of the day.... hehe