Montessori : the importance of observation

Observation is a very active posture that requires motivation and will, obliges us to restrict our propensity to do.

It also leads us to question our beliefs about education in general, as well as our expectations of this particular child.

This neutral and benevolent view feeds an essential need for the child’s development, who feels under this view, this listening, that he can show himself as he is: under construction. It is also a necessity for the educator. By going to our child’s school, we enlighten our educational and pedagogical choices, in order to support his “creative energy”.

On many occasions, our trained eyes and ears bear witness to the small miracles of a child’s life as a man seeking to become a man.

We have become “observers of humanity”!

Observation of the other: a pillar of Montessori education

I observe the life around me in a floating attention and my gaze stops on Marguerite, three and a half years old, who leaves the activity room and heads towards Pablo, to whom she is close, to reach out to him in order to take place in a circle that is being formed.

He opens the circle and welcomes it.

But I am surprised, because here she is refusing to take the outstretched hand of another person who is quick to integrate her into the circle.

Is it because she knows Maud less or because it wasn’t her initiative?

My questioning is of short duration because barely two seconds pass and Marguerite turns to Maud and, and while she shrugs her shoulders high as when we are depressed, and says no to her with her head with vivacity (two gestures to mime simultaneously in order to understand the complexity of the gesture), she opens a hand (I had not seen that one of the hands was closed), and reveals to her some crafts that she has just done and which are placed there.

A precious asset that does not allow her to respond to the invitation and enter the circle completely.

Marguerite thus gives to understand in silence and with all her body, the reason for her refusal. There is in that moment, in that little girl, an affirmation of herself and an ability to pay attention to the other.

Marguerite’s moral sense, social sense and personal freedom combine to reveal the full promise of her being. All this happened in a short time – not even a minute!

And should this be specified? In a totally non-verbal communication. Who saw it? Me, at least. “Seeing, is a matter of practicing,” recalls Maria Montessori. I can’t get enough of it. This is worth gold while being totally free.

From grandfather to grandson

I listen to Philippe during a friendly meal where we are placed side by side:

“I don’t know why, but things are going well between me and my grandchildren. We talk a lot, they ask me questions on important topics.”

And the conversation is going well with this 65-year-old grandfather who tells me about his childhood history in eastern France, in the heart of a somewhat isolated village.

A little later, in the conversation, he reminds me more precisely of the moments he lived with his grandfather, whom he always knew blind and yet a good walker. And he explains as if he was still there, what was going on between them:

“He laid his hand on my shoulder and we travelled together. What could we do but talk!”

And I, immediately to make a connection, that I can’t help but point out to him:

“Philippe, this beautiful relationship you have with your grandchildren, I know where it comes from!”

All generations combined, the need for communication is in man’s nature and its implementation leaves its mark. Philippe made it a happy and lasting experience.

This makes it more natural for him to be present to his grandchildren who feel it well.

Living human relationships, as was the case during this shared meal, is a privileged opportunity to realize that our stories of yesterday and today are linked and that they have much to teach us.