Children at the Helm


Daily at MPA I am reminded just how special Montessori children are. But today I am inspired to write about them.

Last Saturday we had a very successful Open House for prospective families. As is our custom, we placed an invitation for the event on our sign along Newburg Road. The children are always eager to help, and on one snowy day two weeks ago, three of our Upper Elementary children raised their hands to assist me in changing the sign.

The wind chill was right at zero, and while it was sunny, it was indeed quite cold. The three girls (in grades 4th and 5th) pulled out various plastic letters and numbers from our drawers and went outside to put them on the sign.

Prior to this, I had searched through the drawers, looking for a colon or a dash, and finding neither, I decided that the message would look like this, and handed it to the girls on a Post-It:



As the children were working on the sign, they noticed two problems. There was no colon in 9:30, and there was no dash between 9:30 and noon. They asked if they could go look for these two characters. Not wanting to rain on their parade, I agreed, and they went back inside, looking through the very drawers I had just searched. Montessori children are trained to self-correct and always look to perfect everything they attempt.  It becomes a habit for life.  So, I expected them to come back out, disappointed, and learn that “valuable” lesson that sometimes our ideas of perfection must be adjusted downward when dealing with the real world.

To my utter amazement, they came back with both the dashes and the colons. I must not have been as thorough in my hunting, or perhaps I didn’t believe we actually had those characters in our drawer. Whatever the reason, they fully expected to find them, and more to the point, they were not satisfied without them.

Mind you, the wind chill was zero! At times, they needed to take off their gloves in order to slide the characters in the slots. They stood back a few paces to make sure the sign was centered, on both eastern and western sides, and at last declared, “We’re done, Mr. Jeffrey!”

Is it not true that we get what we expect? I’ve lived a while, and I’ve seen a lot of imperfection in my days. The children don’t believe in imperfection. They see the world as a pliable, moldable place, where they can make or achieve anything they desire. May that belief never be extinguished, for it is truly the torch that lights the path of our civilization's future.

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