Montessori and Obedience

The main trait of a normalized child is obedience. It is a type of obedience that is calm and loving. It is not the blind obedience of the world, but a spiritual obedience that knows good from evil. Montessori states in the Montessori Method

It is therefore entirely natural that, loving the child, we should point out to him that obedience is the law of life, and there is nothing surprising in the anxiety felt by nearly everyone who is confronted with the characteristic disobedience of little children. But obedience can only be reached through a complex formation of the psychic personality. To obey, it is necessary not only to wish to obey, but also to know how to.

It is intersting that Montessori believed that we have an inner source that helps us to know right from wrong, and we know how to obey a higher power. This knowledge existed in children that enabled them to learn to obey.

To prepare, in detail, this formation by means of detached exercises is therefore indirectly, to urge the child towards obedience. The method which is the subject of this book contains in every part an exercise for the will-power, when the child completes co-ordinated actions directed towards a given end, when he achieves something he set out to do, when he repeats patiently his exercises, he is training his positive will-power. Similarly, in a very complicated series of exercises he is establishing through activity his powers of inhibition; for instance in the “lesson of silence,” which calls for a long con- [Page 365] tinued inhibition of many actions, while the child is waiting to be called and later for a rigorous self-control when he is called and would like to answer joyously and run to his teacher, but instead is perfectly silent, moves very carefully, taking the greatest pains not to knock against chair or table or to make a noise.

Montessori’s sense of obedience includes self-control of oneself, which is a process a child has to learn in his/her own way. It is a part of a child’s intellectual and emotional development.

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