Self Mastery Through Teaching

Anyone who is involved with Montessori education knows it as a very child-centered approach.  Truly “following the child”, preparing an environment that is not only supportive of developmental needs, but beautiful as well, and managing all the other “nuts and bolts” of directing a class can be truly exhausting at times.

Yet, the Directress/Child relationship is not entirely one-sided.  Over and over again, I’ve had Directresses tell me how much they learn from their children.  “They teach me far more than I teach them!”

When seen this way, then what an opportunity for personal growth we have here for both children AND adults!

I once had a very distressed teacher reluctantly admit to me that “there’s a child in my class whom I really don’t like!”  Not supposed to happen, huh?  After all, as the adults, we’re supposed to like them all!   Wrong!  Love them of course, but not necessarily like.

When this situation happens, we certainly need to relate to that child with love and integrity – but who says we can’t get something out of it, too?  As the saying goes, “If you spot it, you’ve got it!”  So what exactly is that child reflecting back to us?   The new awareness we acquire by pondering that question can then allow us to response consciously and appropriately, rather than react, based on our own conditioning.

For instance,  Jimmy is constantly coming to you for attention.  He wants to tell you about his dog, his trip to the zoo, what he ate for breakfast.  Other children enjoy regaling you with their stories, so what is it about Jimmy?  Are his stories boring?  Does he speak “over” other children who are talking?  Does he have a speech impediment?  Ah!  That last one seems to have a charge!  And so begins the process of self-inquiry.  Does this bring back memories of when I had speech problems?  Was I embarrassed by someone in my life who did?  Do I have unconscious judgments regarding people with impediments or disabilities?

Until we recognize what drives out behaviors and beliefs, we are powerless to change them.  What a wonderful gift from the children we teach:  the possibility of self mastery!

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