It has been interesting to note that even though a lot of people refer to me as the “Stop Using the Cane mama”, there are many who have accused me of superimposing Western culture into our own traditions. It is true that Montessori originated from the West, but it is also true to note that as Western as it’s origins Montessori is truly a global method not only in it’s outreach but also in it’s pedagogy. Montessori’s goal is to prepare children through its education for life. This misconception of bringing Western ideas is not true, these are global ideas, and I would like to address it in this post by looking at the way we educate, parent and treat the children in our care.
In my humble opinion if we consider the kind of style or method of teaching we have opted to use in handling the young ones in our care we may find were the problem lies. Contrary to the popular conception of the western world, they also have the same choices as we do. The way we treat our children is the same way they do. There are choices to be made and each family will choose which one they will follow.
The only difference is that there is a call for not following the most common style which is mainly the autocratic style, and therein lies the problem. I can safely say that a majority of us are autocratic in how we handle children.
So who is and autocratic adult/parent? Autocratic adults want children to be well-behaved and successful, which is great, right? Who wouldn’t want their child, or children from their classroom or school, to be well-behaved? These are the main goals of both parents and schools. So we actually find it difficult to understand why we are saying our own way of disciplining the child is not acceptable.
As far as most of us are concerned, we tell the child what to do, how to think, and expect them to simply get on with it. Most children will do, especially when the fear of the cane as a deterrent is added into the mix. The problem with this method is that though you get obedience, it may not last with most of the children, because as they get older and can shed the control factor of the adults from them, they tend to do as they like! This is dangerous and is the reason why we have so many social ills that we keep screaming about.
As an aside, just to buttress the state of affairs in our nation, I was in tears yesterday from reading and watching that wonderful but painful journalistic work done by Banjo Damilola of Premium Times that showed us the extent of examination malpractice in our primary schools! As if that was not enough I heard of two cases of sexual abuse in our schools and one was a domestic issue but involving a child in a primary school. If this cane method is actually effective, may I ask why are the products of this method so morally deficient?
Even as parents we are failing, as school owners we are failing and as teachers we are failing, Not one group of us can say our hands are clean. Yes as individuals we can say that “I am not like that.” But can you be so sure as an autocratic adult welding your control and stick over the young, that your approach will bring the desired end?
I ask this question out of concern because the problems of welding this stifling control on the minds and life of our young ones is heavy. They get scared of authority, they lie, they get stressed, suffer from lack of confidence, they rebel, their relationships with the adults closest to them get estranged and are therefore more likely to form harmful relationships with the wrong kind of adult.
If we want our children to be well-behaved and successful we may need to look for a much more effective style than being an autocratic adult in their life. Of course each child is different and you may need to handle a child differently if they have behavioural issues, but in general I have found what works best personally, is the authoritative approach.
The authoritative adult, sets boundaries and rules, is intentional about teaching good behaviour, has an open line of communication in place, allows the child to express their feelings, will use each experience as a teaching tool. In the Montessori setting we look at this as providing the child freedom within limits. I believe that this is the way to helping our children learn how to behave right, correctly, by teaching cause and effect, responsibility, allowing them to develop obedience through using their own will, not being forced to do so.
This is a very interesting way to help the child achieve success and we will spend sometime looking at this in detail. Look out for How we Educate the Child for life Part 2.