Considering the present situation in Nigeria, democracy can be dicey and frustrating for a lot of people.
Then I remember an experience that will stay with me for a very long time, and I just marvel at what could be achieved if we did things right.
Let me start at the beginning…
I am observing a 6-9 classroom in session then the Montessori Guide, that is the class teacher, got the children together in a circle.
She also sat in the circle at their level and talked with them.
Remember this was in a classroom in Spain. I do not speak Spanish so I get impressions of what I am observing as I do not understand 99% of what is said. ( My Montessori Guide kindly translates the highlights later.)
After the talk she got two children to hand out small pieces of paper already prepared, to each child.
The children wrote out one name each on their piece of paper. They submitted it to the teacher.
She collated the results and picked out the three highest names.
She then talked with the children telling them that they needed to now vote for just one of the 3 candidates.
The winner would be the leader, the second would be the deputy and the runner-up the secretary.
And so these 6-9-year olds took to their pencils and papers and voted a second time. They submitted the votes and the teacher collated and announced the results.
Come and see my children. They got up and gave congratulatory hugs to the winners and themselves. Smiling and talking in excitement.
There was no sulking or arguments. Just joy!
The next day, in the afternoon the three winners were sitting in chairs, while the rest of the class sat in a circle around them.
They had their classroom communication box in front of them. The leaders opened it up took out a sheet and read it aloud to the class. A deep discussion ensued.
Once they exhausted that discussion they moved on to another one. They dealt with at least 4 to 5 issues.
The teacher was listening but only said something once when she wanted to clarify something.
I duff my hat to the Montessori method once again.
Do you know why?
- These children held an election which was initiated and executed within 20 minutes. It was fair and free, and the results were accepted by both losers and winners alike.
- Their communication box had suggestions and complaints the children noticed over the past few days and wanted them to be sorted out.
- This is delayed gratification. They communicate their grievances and wait for the right time to discuss and iron things out.
- Please note: They wrote out their thoughts themselves.
- Note. The leaders read out the notes. So through hands-on practice, they are becoming great communicators.
- The Montessori Guide does not have to do the classroom surveillance and management all on her own. They do it together as a community.
- These children are learning some great soft skills they will need in the workplace tomorrow.
Which soft skills did you notice?