June Blog: The Intelligence of Love

Movement both grows and expresses the child's intelligence of love.

It has been a few months since I last wrote a blog. Not only were we coming to the end of Part 1 in “The Secret of Childhood”, but you may have noticed a couple large events that took place since February. I am happy to announce that Council Oak Montessori School has successfully navigated distance learning in a way that stays true to the Montessori method. We are using our summer to more fully examine and engage in the local and national dialogue towards meaningful change.

As I write this blog on the final two chapters of Part 1, I look back and am astounded by the truth in these pages – and their relevance even today. After reading and writing the chapters associated with each blog, I started seeing these concepts around the school- in Children’s House, and in children everywhere. I saw children’s curiosity leading them to amazing research projects, and simple tasks building a sense of order.

Even more importantly, I noticed that as I applied these concepts to my interaction with children, they responded positively. Dr. Montessori’s observations undoubtedly apply to this day. Part 1 has investigated the forces that guide children to learn and develop. Parts 2 and 3 will go further into the implications of this.

The more I learn about the Montessori method, the more I respect the teachers at this school. They are unceasingly deepening their understanding of children as a whole and individually. Applying the Montessori method is an art form, and like any great artist, our teachers are happy to share their knowledge, sense of beauty, and order with those around them.

Dave Power- Marketing Manager and COMS Graduate

 

Chapter 16: The Lack of Comprehension

When we don’t understand the reason behind a child’s action, it is easy to regard it as unimportant. This is especially true if the action is inconvenient. We’ve seen in earlier chapters that movement is essential to a child’s learning. However, it is not enough to be aware. We must comprehend.

Everyone can generally agree upon the importance of the child’s senses in learning. They take in information through their eyes, ears, and so forth. What we fail to understand is the way expression is also a form of learning.

This leads to those who would teach a child through discipline. “It would be absurd to think that a child would obtain a higher standard of culture and morality if they were deliberately deprived of sight and hearing” (p100). So why then would we think sitting still or being quiet is a mark of good education?

Through movement and expression, the child interacts with the world. They test out their ideas and explore the environment. Eyes and ears take in information, but it is only through movement that we use this information and give it meaning. (Want to give your child even more opportunities to move? Liz Smith, our school’s yoga instructor offers mindfulness for kids at her studio!)

Deaf or blind children go through great difficulties, but can make up for one lost sense by way of another. Those children deprived of movement have no secondary form of interaction or exploration. Therefore, movement is of primary importance.

“A fundamental goal of education and of life itself is  that a rational creature should so master their instruments of motion that their actions are not simply guided by an instinctive response to sense stimuli but also by reason itself” (p102). Put another way- we are not defined by our circumstances, but by our response to them. To develop the ability to respond is to attain “unity of personality”.

Chapter 17: The Intelligence of Love

So how do we know if it is working? Well, Dr. Montessori believed that “love is not the cause, but the effect” (p103). In earlier chapters she notes that tantrums are a way for the child to let us know that something is wrong. Likewise, love is an expression of things going well. “A child’s love of their surroundings appears to adults as the natural joy and vivacity of youth” (p103).

We may worry that too much joy distracts children from their lessons. However, this mistakes joy for excitement. “It is love that enables a child to observe in a keen and ardent fashion.” Love makes us extra observant, causing us to probe deeper and discover more.

When teachers at Council Oak Montessori School talk about the love of learning it is not at the expense of education, but rather the effect of it. The child’s love directs their learning and is magnified by it. This puts a heavy responsibility on those adults who are the object of this love.

Children are very impressionable. They want to follow our suggestions and imitate our patterns. When our patterns or directions are impossible this creates conflict. These tantrums are the child’s way of letting us know something is wrong. They are also a distress at disappointing the adults that they love.

The love of our children is immense and unwavering. It should be honored and appreciated. Eventually they will grow. The childlike purity of that love will fade. So, during those times when our children’s love is inconvenient- when they wake us up early, invade our personal space, or disrupt our Zoom calls- keep this in mind. They are doing this because they love you and need you.

One “secret of childhood” that we can take out of Part 1 is this love. Maria Montessori had a deep respect for this love. She worked to understand the impulses behind children. In part 2 we will continue with this book to show how she applies this to education. Until then let’s take the time to appreciate that love.

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