“Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world” Dr. Maria Montessori
Saturday, April 10, 2010
There are no "bad" children
A Montessori teacher must believe that there are no "bad" children: there are only those who need to be directed toward work that will occupy them. In writing that, I am reminded of Michael, a boy in one of my first classrooms. At the beginning of the school year he wanted only to talk and tease the other children. He constantly disturbed the others and had to be guided away. Initially, my co-teacher and I wondered if he would ever settle down but decided to have faith in the method and to observe carefully. When Michael interrupted others, we would distract him in order to stop the disturbing behaviour. Often we would quietly remind him of the classroom rules or, at other times, we would simply guide him back to the Practical Life shelves.
After a few months, Michael was working more and disturbing others less. By the end of his first year, Michael had become a willing worker and a helpful member of the classroom society. This was achieved by our observing his behaviour, assessing his needs, then guiding him to find the answer to those needs within the prepared environment of the classroom.
This was also achieved through the development of a good relationship with Michael's mother.
A Montessori school or classroom should be an augmentation of the child's family. In essence, the classroom must provide a relational not an institutional culture. Teachers do not know everything there is to know about the children in their care, nor should they be expected to. Parents are the child's first teachers and can give us invaluable insight to their children if they are allowed. It is the responsibility of every Montessori school to provide opportunities for families and teachers to form strong relationships with one another.