The Montessori Philosophy
Opening up to oneself, to others and to nature
By Arnaud Lebrun
What if life was like a river? Made up of calm and fast flowing zones, whirlpools and slack tide. Everyone wants their child to be kept safe from troubled waters and to be serenely sailing on smooth ones. But we soon realize life can be challenging, both professionally and privately, wishing we had been better prepared for it. More often than not, we have acquired our autonomy through sweat and tears. As the threat of lockdown fell upon us, we quickly realized that our need to be outdoors in nature and surrounded by our dear ones were higher than imagined ever before.
Our Montessori middle school method of teaching aims just at that: meeting those universal needs. Adolescence is a critical moment. Maria Montessori, one of the first female doctors in medicine in Italy, had recognized it as a transition period from a growing child to an adult-to-be in search of his place in society and more generally on Earth. She could identify a deep self-questioning and sensitivity, leaving both parents and relatives more often than not puzzled or at a loss. In fact, the grown-up to-be needs no pre-established answers, but rather to be put in surroundings, that enable them to become who they are. This is done by providing them with a prepared environment in which nature remains near, so that they find out what they want to do with their future. The teacher becomes the facilitator, “at service” to the teen. Answers no longer emanate from the teacher but from the teen’s own experiences and the adult stands as a careful observer. How exciting to go back home at night to share among the stories of the day how you have been doing maths or learning history along with your daily activities!
Mentorship (such as a newcomer in a company, being accompanied by an older member of staff who sheds some light on the dos and don'ts) is the key and the teen will benefit from those practices. He will therefore be empowered to choose his/her own way through careful observation from experts related to his/her fields of interest who will represent a pool of resources to tap into. He will be immersed in the cycle of life in a joyful way. Exploring nature through their senses will enable them to develop confidence in themselves enabling them to connect with something bigger. The inner motivation will drive them to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and competences for them to carry on their studies, and to enter a fast-changing society in confidence with strong foundations.
The adolescent is entitled to love and choose their life, in harmony with nature! And all this, in a multilingual environment!
Author: Arnaud Lebrun. Ecole Montessori Internationale Les Colibris in Biot : An Education for Life.