In Chapter 5 and going into 6, Ana’s analysis is similar to Montessori’s, who was very strong on the importance of what she called, natural education. “The problem is that formal school does not match the usual way humans learn.”(p.63) 

Learning has been taken out of its ‘natural context’ and put into an ‘institutional framework’ (p.63). The learning that takes place in a formal school, is ‘mostly’ an imitation of learning. “Learn for a test and lessons fade.” (p.63)

“With the framework we’ve created for school, what incentives do kids have to value learning over grades?” (p.64).

“As a result, the average student figures out how to graduate from school, but not how to learn the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.  (p.64). 

Ana makes a strong case for student learning to be around their own interests and curiosities.

“We’re born with a natural ability to think independently, but school trains it out of us.” (p.74-75)

“We need to let kids follow their natural intuition. We must allow them to throw away the instructions, and practice discovery and adventure on their own.” p.233.

Maria Montessori elaborates on similar ideas in many places, but there is an excellent section in You, Me, and Montessori by Grace Bosman and Leon G. Caesar, that brings many of these strands together in an excellent manner. We publish much of the extract below, from page 2-5: 

“Freedom. The basis of the Montessori Method, which is a veritable pearl of wisdom to Dr. Montessori’s credit, is the revelation that ‘...children must be free to express themselves and thus reveal those needs and attitudes which would otherwise remain hidden or repressed…’ (The Discovery of the Child, p.46). A term she links with this freedom, is spontaneous actions; gone is the notion that children must sit quietly on their behinds, they are free to move around in Montessori classrooms! The purpose is for children to ‘manifest their natural traits’ (Ibid., p.46). She wrote of this freedom, ‘It was this part of the problem, which had not as yet been taken up by educators, that seemed to me to be most important and most pertinent to teaching since it has direct reference to a child’s vital activities’ (Ibid., p.46).  A child is surrounded by restrictions (at home and at school) that limit her/his activity. In, The Secret of Childhood (New York, 1966), Montessori puts this last point in the following manner, ‘A child cannot develop and expand as it should because an adult “represses” it’ (p.13). Her approach on this point can be summed up quite simply: 

1. We do not fully understand what is developing naturally within a child; therefore, throw aside our prejudices and let the child teach us how to teach her/him.  

2. Every child is propelled by a natural drive to develop and grow, and only freedom of action will allow the child to develop in as  normal (natural) a manner as possible. 

3. In the process of this development, the child’s personality is formed, which means an adult is formed. In this sense,  “The child is the father of the man.” (Ibid, p. 36).

 

Obstacles, or barriers, have a profound impact on the child’s development as they negatively impact on the child’s need to “secretly perfect his inner life over a long period of time” (Ibid, p.34).

In fact, it is a strong belief of hers that this freedom is an “innate” (natural) requirement (Ibid., p.31). The child’s “great mission” is to grow up and become an adult (Ibid, p.62). The child is filled with the potentialities of life, which are the sources of growth (Ibid, p.61)... 

Maria and Girl
Maria and a girl

A child can also not develop freely if an adult keeps on pointing out “mistakes”. These are not mistakes, but experiences on the road to success and the child should be guided along the correct path in a manner that promotes independence.  Constant corrections have a “lowering effect” on the child’s “energies and interests” (The Absorbent Mind, New York, 1995 p. 245). Madame Montessori believed that corrections did not improve the child, who required additional skills “...and how can he do this if, being already below standard, he is also discouraged?” (Ibid, p. 245). She recommends exercise and experience with long practice, but the child must do so voluntarily (Ibid, p. 246).  In a different context, but very relevant to our discussion, Montessori states, ‘What are the interests of education centered on today? On the child’s mistakes! These small errors hide the true greatness of man’ (The 1946 London Lectures, p.5).”

 

For us here at Youmemontessori, Ana’s views dealt with above fall well within our own pedagogical views.

The Learning Game Book
The Learning Game Book

Here is the link to her book on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Game-Teaching-Themselves-Challenge/dp/1804090093?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

You, Me and Montessori - What Every Child Deserves Book
You, Me and Montessori - What Every Child Deserves

Here is a link to You, Me and Montessori on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/You-Me-Montessori-Every-Deserves/dp/1543751857/ref=sr_1_1?crid=7YWTKW2XKOM6&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.PTdZy2lj7h81Z90zkPhOQg.SLLa48-hnRJdl0esbsPTDqTMTbQCTCxPV5ChNl7q70E&dib_tag=se&keywords=You%2C+me+and+Montessori+by+Grace+Bosman&qid=1712807320&sprefix=you%2C+me+and+montessori+by+grace+bosman%2Caps%2C659&sr=8-1