“Spiritual Preparation of the Adult”

Afbeelding voor “Spiritual Preparation of the Adult”
Montessori recognised that the role of the adult in the Montessori environment is a challenging one, likening it to the trials of the Vestals in ancient Rome, tasked with keeping the sacred fire alive (Creative Development of the Child, 2020: 403).

In Creative Development in the Child  (Montessori-Pierson Publishing, 2020), Montessori gives just two rules the teacher must follow:

  1. Do not interrupt the child who is working
  2. Do no correct indiscriminately the errors of the child

(Montessori, 2020: 401)

Instead, she says it is our role to “keep alive this fire in the child who has been given into our care. We must mount guard against the two dangers which may put out the fire in the soul of the child. We may put it out, ourselves being the obstacles in the path of the child, interrupting and interfering voluntarily. We may put it out without knowing through negligence, by not offering a material when the child is ready for it. Thus by our negligence to give food to this flame within the child, the child’s interest dies, and the fire goes out”  (Montessori, 2020: 403).

So how do we find the balance between engaging too little and interfering too much?

In her book, Interacting or Interfering, Julie Fisher writes that “Interactions with young children are profoundly important for supporting and extending their learning” (Fisher, 2016: 1). But interactions can soon become adult-led and dominated and so a helpful approach might be found in something called Sustained Shared Thinking.

Sustained Shared Thinking came out of two influential studies Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years (REPEY), and The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education and is described as:

“An episode in which two or more individuals ‘work together’ in an intellectual way to solve a problem, clarify a concept, evaluate activities, extend a narrative, etc. Both parties must contribute to the thinking and it must develop and extend” (REPEY, 2002:9).

Learn more about Sustained Shared Thinking from these two articles:

Part 1: What is Sustained Shared Thinking?

Part 2: Ideas to Promote More Sustained Shared Thinking