Friday, October 25, 2013

Lessons from Maria Montessori

Imagine a beautiful landscape.

Are you there?

Now imagine that you are holding a camera and a sketch pad. And that you are quite the artist.

Sketch what you see.

Now take a picture.


Finished? Beautiful. You really are a gifted artist.

Now take a look at your sketch and the picture. Put them side by side.


The sketch, no matter how talented you are (and you are, clearly), is - at best - a very accurate representation or impression of what you actually see before you. It is influenced by your vision, your perception, your experiences, your judgements, your feelings, your beliefs, your ignorance, your view of the world.

The picture is an exact reproduction. It has absolutely no frame of reference, just the frame of the lens.


Now consider this:

The sketch describes our experience as adults. We see the world through a series of filters. We have the ability to be selective about the information we absorb, and the information we ignore. We take information in differently depending on who we are, what we've experienced and how we're feeling. We frame everything into a context that makes sense for us.

The picture describes the way a child from the ages of 0-6 sees the world. No filters. No artistic license. Only one giant lens. They see, hear and feel it all. And I am not exaggerating. Almost on a daily basis, my daughter points things out to me that I would never have noticed on my own, describes things in terms that I would never have thought possible for her to understand. Because she's not trying to put each experience into a tidy little box of context that is familiar and comfortable. She is just experiencing. Everything. Taking it all in. ALL of it.


So here's a thought. If she's hearing every bit of music that she's exposed to, why not expose her to the best? If she's watching every social interaction around her, why not show her the very best way to communicate and relate to others? If she is really tasting every single spice and texture, why not allow her to taste the very best food you can create? Why fill that vast expanse with the mediocre, the inferior,  or worse - the detrimental?

We are, of course, only human. And the human experience is not perfect. But given the knowledge that after 6 short years your child will begin to develop their own filters, their own prejudices, their own opinions of the world based on their own experiences, don't you want to give them the very richest platform from which to leap?

I do.

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