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Montessori Education: The Quiet Revolution

Rukmini Ramachandran

The last century has seen many changes in the lives of people everywhere. In many parts of the globe, humans have embraced the path of economic progress, and sought to move towards modern ways of life, looking to reconcile agrarian roots, with the pressures of technology. Strict religious codes and the complex rules of social life have altered, to accommodate new lifestyles. Rifts have appeared in the fabric of family life. Alienation and isolation, stress and anxiety are to be found in every part of the global village. The problem of a divided society is not a new one, nor is education as a remedy to this problem a new idea. In our hurt and bleeding world we need to seek answers. Social change is necessary for progress which is possible only by self-reflection. A quick look at the state of the world tells us, that in our scramble as a species towards material progress and affluent lifestyles, we have begun to define human well-being in a very narrow and limited way. Economic progress alone cannot lead to a harmonious world. How then can we have a safe world for our children? How can we build a world in which people live together as interdependent and collaborative societies?   In the Montessori environment the child is offered many activities which engage the body and mind. He is also given precise and careful help to perform these activities. By choosing to perform these activities, by performing them with skill and precision, the child builds his own personality and discovers his own inner powers. By means of small group lessons the child is shown exactly the courtesies, customs and manners that constitute polite and harmonious social relations. These various and particular niceties of habit, of deportment, of speech and graceful conduct are part of the social glue that binds society together. Greeting a visitor, passing politely through a narrow gap, offering a cup of tea, blowing one’s nose, even opening and shutting a door—these are simple skills often seen practiced in society.   Group sessions are often called to demonstrate these marvellous skills to the young children. All children are offered the opportunity to try their skills out—both at the time of demonstration, or even afterward in real situations that arise in the environment. For instance, the children greet each other and the adults when they enter in the morning. They ...

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