Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, or
still less to memorize, but so to touch the imagination and
enthuse him to his innermost core.
Maria Montessori from To Educate the Human
Maria Montessori was passionate about The Child as the Future, she studied the child and came out with the most incredibly detailed and profound method of how to help children become their very best.
As I study Montessori Education and work through her materials I see a genius who lived way ahead of her time. I marvel at her ability to understand the depth of what needed to happen for us to prepare for the future.
I pray that our country gets it.
To educate the child, to create a winning education system and to set the pace for a great national growth and the achievement records which the Giant of Africa can attain, can be done.
The thing is we must understand that it is not about us at all, but about understanding how ‘ to enthuse the child to his innermost core.’
First we must understand that for the nursery aged child they need hands on activities, not studying of facts and figures, not memorization of facts first.
Understand this, it is not that memorization is bad or wrong! It is just that we need to get it in the right order.
Then even your Primary school aged child, they still need inspiration, the use of their imagination to enthuse them to their innermost core before we reach a point where memorization makes sense.
So what is this enthusing children to their innermost core all about? How do we achieve this?
The Montessori answer is simple: Tell the children stories about how and why? Children in primary school, our 6 to 12 year old child, always want to know the how and why’s of things.
One issue or mistake we make is defining things for them, using the dictionary or encyclopedias to teach children concepts. It is a mistake because we are not able to feed them with that important ingredient of how and why these things are.
Not only that they need to understand the characteristics and tendencies of the human race. They need to see themselves as part of the contribution to humanity.
Understanding time, morality, social concepts, ethics, choosing to do good and not evil. The seeds are sown here. It is done in stages, one grows out of the other.
Stay with me for a moment: your nursery school child does not understand your stories of “In 1960 Nigeria gained it’s independence…” It takes time for the passage of time and the enormity of it all to make sense to the child as it does the adult.
Seriously any mention of dates is just talk, they don’t really understand.
The primary school child also thinks that the plants, animals and human beings have always been on the earth, full stop. They have a lineal way of understanding life.
Please we need to help ourselves, all children think like this, the problem is that some of us as adults do too.
We need to move past this.
As educators we need to wise up to our responsibilities, the world is changing and evolving faster than ever (pollution, recycling, climate change, etc.) Our children need to know the hows and why’s.
Life is too easy for the 21st Century mind, children don’t have to walk miles to get to school, neither do they need to go looking for what to eat!
This is why a child from a very poor background who may have to fend for themselves can sometimes cope better with life’s challenges. They have lived through experiences that forces them to have to find solutions…
The children who are spoon fed have had everything handed to them….
If we want our children to be creative, critical thinkers and solution providers in this easy existence of “everything is done for you world” we would need to engage their imagination through storytelling.
The more I understand what is at stake the more I see why Montessori took this route with the primary aged child.
Storytelling is Key
The Story of Nigeria and lots more loading….