Purpose of This Blog

Devoted to guiding educators towards a centered and intentional Montessori practice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Freedom with Responsibility: A Life in Balance



Maria Montessori spoke early and often of children being 'spiritual beings within a material body.' Our mandate, as teachers and parents alike, is to free this spirit and allow for its full expression. This is accomplished through the creation of environments and opportunities organized to promote one's freedom and celebrate one's independence within the context of the liberty tolerated by the whole community. So it is that we can help facilitate the construction of a child's personality.

Let us speak of freedom as that inevitable, internal and intrinsic capacity to be free, whereas liberty is the right and power to act in a manner of one's own choosing. The latter is something that is external, given, and proportional to the independence that one is acquiring: the sense of power to act alone, based upon a series of prior successes.

In a community that provides for individual expression there is a balance separating freedom and license. To be sure, the classroom is a wonderful example of just this: the children have the freedom to make choices that are safe and kind (for themselves and others), but not the license to do whatever they please.

The liberty that a child may take, then, is based upon her successful use of her inherent, organic freedom coupled with her demonstrated independence. This necessarily involves planning, careful choices and the conscious decision to take her learning to the next level.

The challenge for children in a Montessori environment is to look between the scaffold of follow-up work that the teacher has provided, such that they allow themselves the time and space to follow their bliss – for that is what so much of living is all about.

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