Maria Montessori was a radical thinker. She was a woman and a scientist in a time (and these barriers still exist today) where educated men founded concepts and ideals that grew from an "enlightened" society. An "enlightened society" I wonder. The British Empire spanned almost as big as the Mongolian Empire under Genghis Khan. What political systems developed from these empires?
Genghis Khan, although his methods may be considered as barbaric, allowed freedoms that existed outside of the bounds of family and tradition -he chose his generals out of loyalty and had absolute faith in them. The British Empire suppressed and enslaved native populations with the concepts and ideas, cutting off intelligences and subsequent actions that may be lost forever, generating politics, egos, forms of conversations, facts, figures in which everyone had to meet in order to be heard or experience any kind of psychical . I think of Gandhi's fight for India -and even his ideals are conflicted. He was a just a man, who at the end of his life was so disgusted with politics, he focused on the internal nature of his being -hence our own intimate conversation, knowing this basic understanding of self is fundamental in all people. "I live simply so others may simply live."
Isn't this who we are?
Elitism in the West- the courts of Europe -I think of Versailles beautiful but gathered round the idea that God lives in the perfection of human form. Look at all art today- It is the perfection of form that exists outside or internal life or experience to meet a larger unified idea within that specific culture and/or society. It has baggage. And only those who happen to be born into it, work hard enough to prove their worth of it, are able to act and create within that society.
All the creative thinkers- artists -Michelangelo, musicians -Mozart, (only a two of who knows how many?) are bound to this belief of enlightened ideals - a pinnacle of sorts. I wonder what work they would have created if they were completely free?
Montessori saw the disenfranchised youth in Italy (children who were poor, or considered to be un able to educate) and created a scientific system in which to allow these persons to connect to their whole internal self. She developed a system of concrete materials that freed the individual from being bound to another in order to learn and develop their own character. BUT she created this system within a framework of already existing ideals and concepts that dictate where the soul can and how it can evolve.
It amazes me that we are unable to understand her own limitations. She was bound to a corrupt system, and she knew it. She spoke in reference to the concept of God within her work, because the only way she could do her work was to be within the larger framework of those "enlightened" western beliefs.
So why is it then that most everyone sees the Montessori Method as a rigid system of academic growth, in which the teacher and student are bound to the form?
The lesson needs to be done this way. The child has mastered the work when we see this.
We are silly to think that children feel or experience this framework as truth to defining who they are, how they learn, and what they wish to do.
Why are we bending the genius of a method as religious fanatics would do? In truth Creativity which is who we really are -each and everyone of us - is bound to no one but our internal experience. Creativity has no limits, no structure is completely free of all concept and thought. And only the individual can know that from experience.
We need as educators, parents and adults to support this new line of thinking and being. We need to understand and allow ourselves to evolve within our own understanding and creativity if we are to survive at all.
We need to see Montessori as a method only. That this method is flexible and can be used creatively to connect the child to her/himself; not to create a carbon copy of what already exists.
Montessori as a rigid right and wrong way thwarts the will under the concept of a religious system which is exactly what she was fighting against in the first place.