Dr. Montessori referred to these misbehaviors as "deviations", or detours from normalization. The deviations are created when development is not allowed to proceed in a normal way. If the misbehavior is not corrected, it will only become worse as time progresses.
"Why Aren't My Students Normalized?" Deviations in the Normalization Process
Dr. Montessori classified deviations in two categories: deliberate (adult-fostered) and non-deliberate (those not fostered by adults). Deliberate deviations are caused by the lack of purposeful activities in the home and/or school environment. These children feel the need to be constantly entertained. They are continually bouncing between toys, TV, and computer time to alleviate boredom, but nothing holds their interest for very long. These children may also have the tendency to cling to a parent or older sibling well beyond the developmental plane of letting go. This is because their independence has been denied and they are unable to recognize themselves as a separate person.
There are several deviations that are not fostered by adults and are often seen as "normal" stages of development. Dr. Montessori referred to these as deviations as fugues and barriers (The Secret of Childhood) and deviations that are demonstrated by the strong and the weak (The Absorbent Mind).
- Fugues – A fugue is when a child "runs away" from a task. While they are never still, they lack purpose. They begin a work, leave it unfinished, and rush to another.
- Barriers – A barrier is a deviation which is strong enough to keep a child from engaging in his surroundings. It may be disguised as disobedience or obstinacy. It manifests itself as dependence, possessiveness, power struggles, feelings of inferiority, fear, lying, and psychosomatic illness.
- Strong – Being strong means being able to overcome obstacles. When children are not strong, they are prone to aggression, violence, rage, insubordination. They can be destructive and unable to concentrate. They are termed naughty, disobedient. Dr. Montessori observed that "They have difficulty in coordinating their hands. They are generally noisy, unkind, and often greedy at the table."
- Weak – Children who are demonstrating a deviation in the weak give in to unfavorable conditions. They cry easily, are passive, manipulative, and easily bored. Rather than do something for themselves, they exert effort in trying to get others to do it for them. They are afraid of the world around them and cling to adults.
More in this Blog Series:
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Saturday, April 26, 2008.