I’ve been reading a lot about Maria Montessori and her approach to education lately and was struck by her statement that: “It is true that we cannot make a genius. We can only give a child the chance to fulfill his potential possibilities.”
This is so true and the exact reason that I chose to take control of my children’s education from the time they were tiny babies. Parents or guardians must take an active part in their children’s education, even if their children receive a formal education outside of the home. We know that many children are not even reading at grade level.
Our young children are capable of learning so much more than most adults realize. Children need only be given the opportunity to learn and respect by their caregivers to achieve their true potential.
Well, what is a genius anyway? Someone who is exceptionally smart, has a high IQ or has achieved great success? What if someone is exceptionally bright at math, but below average when it comes to language? I subscribe to the theory that there are multiple types of intelligence and very few people, if any, are capable of scoring high in all of them.
Yes, there are some people who are “geniuses” in certain areas, but, no, I don’t believe you can make your child a genius. Hard work plus natural ability plus opportunity is the most likely formula to create a “genius.” But, hopefully, we aren’t educating our children because we want them to become geniuses. I think most of us would agree that creating thoughtful, intelligent little people who have a positive self-image and a love of learning is a much more laudable goal.
I’m also not a big fan of labels like “genius” or even just “smart” or “pretty.” I understand that we need labels for classification purposes. But when you label someone, you are placing external expectations on that individual to live up to a standard that he or she may or may not be able to live up to. For example, if you were told as a child that you were the “artistic one” and your sister was the “smart one” then when you get to college and get a “C” on your first mid-term exam you’re more likely to chalk it up to your natural ability rather than the fact that you didn’t study all that much. We owe our children more than labels.
Children that feel they are not living up to the expectation afforded by the label will be negatively impacted. Kids want to be accepted and loved and if they feel as as though they’ve let you down, the end result is that their self-esteem is damaged. Exceptionally bright children with low self-esteem are much less likely to live up to their full potential whereas children who are smart or of average intelligence but who have high self-esteem are much more likely to lead a fulfilling life.
I’m sure we can all agree that we want our children to be confident and have a positive self-image. We also want them to be thoughtful and to love learning. So, how do we accomplish this goal? Well, Maria Montessori believed that we could accomplish this goal by allowing children to self-direct their activities in a non-competitive environment with guidance and respect from a teacher. This will allow each child the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential, which is going to be different for each child.
I tend to mostly agree with Montessori’s theory. What do you think? Can we make geniuses?
If you’re interested in learning more about the Montessori Method, you can download the Kindle Edition of Maria Montessori’s The Montessori Method from Amazon for just $0.99.
Also, linking up to Montessori Mondays.