So what is important?

“It is the spirit of the child that can determine the course of human progress and lead it perhaps even to a higher form of civilization.”  –Maria Montessori

cubing materials

"Montessori Works Night" where children demonstrate the materials to parents and guests

I’ve been thinking a great deal about perspective lately. How will the present moment matter in the future? What is important for the future?

Perspective requires that we take a long view, and I have been talking to many people lately about Good Shepherd Montessori School, and I find that the theme of the conversations often comes down to the long view. What do you really want for your child? What do you really want for your community? For the world?

When answering those questions, we take the long view. My son just took his first high school class and I found myself talking about grades to a child who has never needed to consider a grade before. Yes, I want my child to get good grades, but that is only a means to an end, isn’t it? The grade is not the goal, that is not the vision. The potential of the human person is the vision. Perhaps, in this system, the grade will allow my child to advance to another academic level that will eventually allow him to tap his true potential, so I don’t want him to get bad grades–I don’t want him to miss opportunities. But the grade is only the short term view; the child’s potential–the very potential of the human person, the potential of the community, of the nation, of the world–that is the long term view. That is what matters.

Perspective requires that I ask: “How will what I am experiencing today carry over into the future? What do I need to hold onto, of what do I need to let go? How am I making a positive influence through my work and relationships today? What am I doing today that will lead to a better civilization?” It sounds, perhaps, too lofty and idealistic, but it seems to me that when it gets right down to it, that is what we are working toward, together, isn’t it? A better civilization, one that is inclusive, inspiring, and productive, one that is grounded in right relationship.

I am biased, I know, but when I think of our collective future, when I think of the culture that we are creating and developing, of the community we seek to build, of the world we desire, I think of preparing a rich environment for children who then construct their personalities through the work that takes place inside that environment over the course of a series of three-year curricula. I think of the Montessori method and philosophy. That “preparation of the environment,” I am confident, will create for us a better civilization.

The hope for humankind is found in our elementary schools today. We absolutely have to take a long view and do everything possible to be sure our focus is not only the immediate needs and desires of the child (and certainly not the immediate needs and desires of the adult!) but we need to ensure that our focus is the human potential itself. What is happening in our elementary schools now that will create a better civilization? Where is our perspective?

Explore posts in the same categories: elementary education, Montessori, Montessori Method

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