We often hear parents talk in awe of the Montessori method. Their frequent compliments are; “Montessori education made my child independent.”, “My child loves his Montessori School.”, “Montessori gave my child a good foundation of academic subjects like Language and Mathematics.” However, as time passed by and their children grew to elementary or adolescent age, these same parents start wondering about what comes next? The thoughts that come up are: “Montessori is good, but is it practical?”, “Montessori may not prepare my child for what is the real world.”, “Montessori education won’t work when my child grows older.”, and finally, “Montessori is expensive and not sustainable for the whole education journey of an individual.”

When asked what their aspirations for their children are, they often say, “I want my child to be happy.”, “I want my child to be responsible.”, “I want my child to be kind and respectful.” etc. They would even go on to say that all the work done and money earned is so that their child/children can have a better life and education than they had. We focus on the social life of the human being as the outcomes we desire for our child, and yet we look for their academic success in school! We allow our children to go through 18 years of life in a classroom, sitting behind desks, doing homework after school and over the weekend, and sitting for exams to test their knowledge on a subject. How does this instil a love for learning? How does this create collaboration instead of competition? How can children develop morality? For morality is not something taught abstractly with words but must be experienced through life.

“Morals are simply the rules of society—they do not exist without society. It is society that distinguishes between good and bad. Morals come from relationships with other people. If the child and the adolescent do not have a chance to engage in true social life, they do not develop a sense of discipline and morality.” – Maria Montessori, Education and Peace.

When an education capable of meeting these expectations is offered, not many take it because of doubt and anxiety. Fear drives our decisions and this fear affects the lives of our children adversely. We fear for our children about things we do not even know! We do not fear about the things we know. Perhaps, we know that our child may feel arrogant or proud if he keeps winning games or acing tests yet we do not fear asking him to compete even more. Perhaps, we know our child will lose out on his own interests if he spends time studying for an exam that is done to measure his mind, yet we ask him to study for the exam without feeling any fear of hindrance to his development. We insist that our children move through their education being pushed and assessed by others instead of allowing them to develop naturally. How then can children become stewards for a better world?

“Intelligence is not merely a power of remembering the perception of images, but a power of constructing and reconstructing.” – Maria Montessori – The 1913 Rome Lectures

There is no question that education needs to be thought about from a developmental perspective and not from a measurement perspective. Yet, we only talk about it without working on any concrete steps in that direction. Montessori’s whole practice revolves around human development with no room for measurement or force. She said it simply – “Follow the child!”; meet his needs, support his human nature and see which finality he leads us to.

“There is in the soul of a child an impenetrable secret that is gradually revealed as it develops.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Give the child a chance without fear. Give Montessori a chance!

“To cultivate mankind signifies precisely to activate the hidden psychic energies existing in the child, allowing this flower of humanity to develop with greater richness and beauty. If we do not adopt this method, humankind will forever remain imperfect” – Maria Montessori, Citizen of the World