Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 4: The New Path — Joy and Excitement

“…no one can do for the child the work he has to do to build the man he is making.” — Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p. 30.

NAMC Montessori the absorbent mind chapter 4 studying the works girl on slide

If you have ever watched a young child as her birthday approaches, you know that this is a time full of excitement and expectation. My niece, who recently turned 5, started counting down the days to her birthday several months before the big day. And who would not be excited to know they were growing bigger, stronger, and smarter? It is a BIG deal. It is as if with each birthday, children anticipate their newer, better self.

Studying the Works of Montessori - The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 4: The New Path

NAMC Montessori Absorbent Mind Chapter 4 Studying the Works of Montessori
The child's aging process is a movement towards life.
Adults, on the other hand, tend to downplay their birthdays, especially after they reach a certain age. I have a friend who enjoys celebrating her 29th birthday, but she has been celebrating it for the past 26 years! Why do we lose that excitement of our youth? Because, Montessori says, as we become adults, we leave childhood behind us. And as we leave the childhood excitement of growing up behind, we fear that which is ahead of us.

NAMC Montessori the absorbent mind chapter 4 studying the works boy with bubbles

The child, Montessori says, is becoming an adult and is moving toward life. It is the child’s job, his mission if you will, to create himself according to his best ability physically, mentally, and spiritually. Montessori says this is the work of the child and one that he looks forward to. “The child’s life is one in which work – the doing of one’s duty – begets joy and happiness. For adults, the daily round is more often depressing.” (Montessori, 1964)

The duty, then, of parents is to protect the child. As parents, we dedicate ourselves to nurturing our children. It is through our love that we sacrifice for them. “The love we find in infancy shows what kind of love should reign ideally in the grown-up world: a love able, of its own nature, to inspire sacrifice, the dedication of one ego to another ego, of one’s self to the service of others. In the depth of their love, all parents renounce their own lives to dedicate them to their children.” (Montessori, 1964)

This statement brought to mind a quote I saw recently which said, “children are not a distraction; they are the most important work.” Sadly, I have encountered many parents who feel that their children infringe on their freedom. A father, feeling inconvenienced by his children, once asked me, “How long am I going to be on restriction?” How sad is it to know that some children grow up feeling and knowing they are in the way. Sadder still are the parents who do not understand the true love and joy children bring.

NAMC Montessori the absorbent mind chapter 4 studying the works child and parents hands

Let those of us who have and/or work with children remember that this joyful path children are on toward life is new and exciting for them. Let us celebrate with them as they progress joyfully toward adulthood and not bog them down with the worries, aches, and pains of our own adulthood. Let them shine in the forefront of our days, while we remain in the background, nurturing, protecting, and supporting their precious childhood.

Work Cited
Montessori, Maria. The Absorbent Mind. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1964.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, February 18, 2014.

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