Dear Spanish Lime Families,
As we head into the month of November we start to see a shift in the classroom and in the individual. Montessorians call it normalization, which occurs when learners act upon the environment physically as well as socially. his becomes the primary means through which educational goals are achieved. But how do we get normalized? Through individual liberty and responsibility of course!
Individual liberty is at the root of Montessori education. Without liberty, the nature of the learner cannot be seen or aided in its development. It is only through liberty that the learner can act spontaneously, follow inner needs, adapt, discover order, and develop independence. It is seen in the freedom of movement, freedom of choice, freedom from interfering, freedom to work alone or with others and the freedom not to participate in work. As with any community, these freedoms have limits when they violate the rights of others. The constant challenge is to preserve and maximize individual liberty while preserving the rights of all and the welfare of the class.
Individual responsibility goes along with individual liberty and freedom. From early childhood and on, students take responsibility by helping determining the rules of the classroom. Students also care for the environment by cleaning materials, taking care of plants and animals, and maintain a clean and safe learning environment. Elementary students set personal goals, keep work plans and composition books, and participate in parent-teacher conferences. In doing so take greater responsibility for their own education.
It is the job of the teacher to balance liberty and responsibility in the classroom. By carefully expanding freedoms as learners show they are able to handle them, the teacher helps develop each student’s ability to increase individual responsibility.
The Third Great Lesson, The Coming of Humans, will be introduced this month. It is presented with a very long chart called the Timeline of Humans. It shows images of a variety of prehistoric humans. It also depicts the tools and art developed by these early people. Unlike the other living organisms we discussed in the timeline of life, we emphasize that humans have three special gifts: the hand, the mind and the ability to love. Humans have minds; a thinking mind that no other creature had before. Humans also have hands; hands to hold and cradle their young. Humans feel love; love not only for people close to us, but love for people we have never met.
After the story is told, we discuss the Fundamental Needs of a Human. In order to live and thrive, people need different things. One kind of need is spiritual and others are material. Material needs are things people need to survive. Spiritual needs are religion, art and culture. We discuss commonalities of these needs. Exploring what makes us human and learning about the journeys of our common ancestors helps us discover who we truly are.