Human Tendencies In A Time Of Pandemic
No seriously, bear with me here.
Of course Montessori doesn’t ever close, right? Because Montessori is about serving life and serving the child. Its not about classrooms and schools, even though that’s where we tend to practice it.
So if Montessori never closes, what do Montessori people do when schools close?
First, we do what everyone else does when faced with a sudden, incontrovertible major change to our daily lives – go through the stages of grief and activate our coping mechanisms whatever they may be.
And when we’re ready, I suggest we take a breath and try something different. Something really and truly Montessori.
I suggest we start where we are, with the children in the environments they are in, with us in the environments we are in, and we observe, with all the knowledge and wisdom Dr. Montessori left us, to assess what the children in our own communities need right now. I suggest we go deep into the philosophy, and refocus on the crucial, sacred, true purpose of our work – to be an aid to life. To help the child adapt to their place and time – to give the child the universe so they can find their place within it.
Life today is not what life was just a few short weeks ago. Which means to aid life, we have to adapt. How do we do that? We adults are much less adaptable. We’re going to have to get creative, and think differently about our work.
What is a Montessori guide without the materials? A Montessori guide without materials is still a prepared adult, learned in the ways of the children, aware of the planes of development and the human tendencies, and the sensitive periods and the ways in which children learn and develop. A Montessori guide without materials is still a prepared adult dedicated to peace education and cosmic education – to the betterment of our world through education.
Can we allow ourselves to re-orient to our new imposed reality?
Can we explore new ways of being and what our responses to crisis teach us about ourselves?
Can we allow ourselves time to re-create order? Can we allow that it is difficult to live when all the elements that gave our life order disappear with little warning?
Can we learn new ways of communicating and engaging gregariously?
Can we recognize that we require repetition in order to learn, and we have just begun learning new things?
Can we use this as an opportunity to engage in self-perfectionment?
And what about our students and their families? If nothing else, this pandemic dispels any doubt that if we truly serve the child we also must serve the family.
Can we support them in reorienting? In exploration, creating order, communicating, repeating, looking for exactness…
Can we help parents, guardians and adults learn to observe their children, and respond to their needs? Can we help them create environments and structures that will help their families adapt?
Montessori did not tell us what to do during a pandemic – we are forging our own paths here, and many of them will diverge. But I do think there is a Montessori way to approach every path we choose to walk: always looking to the child. Always asking: what does this child need? And doing our best to respond to that by creating environments within which they can meet their own needs.
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