THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

Scientific Methods As Applied To Child Education In "the Children's Houses"

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DISCIPLINE
87
to sit still, he prepares himself not for the school, but for life; for he becomes able, through habit and through prac­tice, to perform easily and correctly the simple acts of social or community life. The discipline to which the child habituates himself here is, in its character, not limited to the school environment but extends to society.
The liberty of the child should have as its limit the collective interest; as its form, what we universally con­sider good breeding. We must, therefore, check in the child whatever offends or annoys others, or whatever tends toward rough or ill-bred acts. But all the rest,— every manifestation having a useful scope,— whatever it be, and under whatever form it expresses itself, must not only be permitted, but must be observed by the teacher. Here lies the essential point; from her scientific preparation, the teacher must bring not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. In our system, she must become a passive, much more than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of anxious scientific curiosity, and of absolute respect for the phenomenon which she wishes to observe. The teacher must under­stand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon.
Such principles assuredly have a place in schools for little children who are exhibiting the first psychic mani­festations of their lives. We cannot know the conse­quences of suffocating a spontaneous action at the time when the child is just beginning to be active: perhaps we suffocate life itself. Humanity shows itself in all its intellectual splendour during this tender age as the sun shows itself at the dawn, and the flower in the first un­folding of the petals; and we must respect religiously, reverently, these first indications of individuality. If any
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