As the year progress our community continues to grow and change both physically and socially. Looking over our most recent “Community Lunch” I was reminded of a comment Montessori made over a 100 years ago:
Given conditions that freed the child to work unhindered, with practical material which met basic inner needs and developed attributes of character, the children began to exhibit interest in relating to others with the dignity that they felt for themselves.
Having been shown simple social functions such as laying the table and serving others as well as greeting guests (there were many visitors to the Casa dei Bambina) the children transcended their humble status and “They learned to behave at table like princes, and they also learned to wait on the table like the best waiters…Truly, this is what was happening to our children. There was a resurrection from sadness to joy, with the disappearance of many faults, that are usually feared because considered incorrigible…”
Though simple lessons in grace and courtesy the children became sociable and their characters were developed. This is why today we continue to provide simple lessons in grace and courtesy. It was not just lessons in social interaction that brought about the changes in the children. It was that the fundamental obstacles were removed in a prepared environment, and the child soon emerged from a cocoon of ego-centrism and wanted to interact and participate in the community. “No sooner was the child placed in this world of his own size than he took possession of it. Social life and the formation of character followed automatically.”
Further facilitating this process was the mixing of age groups, providing a community in which children could contribute by helping others less capable, and children could look up to others as models for their future. These combined characteristics form the fundamental reason why children become socialized in a Montessori environment.